Taxi drivers welcome extension of deadline for diesel levy concessions
Taxi drivers cautiously welcomed the extension of diesel duty concessions to December 31.
Duty will revert to the June 1998 level on January 1, 2001, when a formal switch to LPG taxis begins.
In June 1998, Mr Tsang offered a nine-month concession on diesel duty as a temporary relief in view of the economic downturn.
Diesel duty was lowered from $2.89 to $2 per litre. The concession was extended for a further 12 months in last year's Budget.
It is estimated that the latest concession will cost $460 million in this financial year.
Ng Kwok-hung, of the Taxi Associations' Federation, welcomed the extension but said: 'The cancellation of the concession will mean taxi owners who cannot switch to LPG early next year will be punished.' Mr Ng was worried the required infrastructure, such as LPG filling stations and maintenance facilities, would not be ready in time.
Mr Tsang said that funds had been earmarked for helping diesel taxis to switch to LPG.
The Government is expected to seek funding approval from the legislature in April, although it was still trying to arrive at a consensus with the taxi trade over the level of funding.
The Government hopes all diesel taxis will be off the streets by 2006.
Last October, Tung Chee-hwa outlined a $1.4 billion plan to help diesel vehicles shift to LPG or cut emissions.
Light buses are expected to follow taxis in switching to LPG.
Mr Tsang also announced a further three-year exemption for vehicle registration tax for electric vehicles.
Dr Man Chi-sum, executive director of Green Power, welcomed the move.
'It will provide economic incentives to people so that they can have more choices in emission-free vehicles,' he said.
But he said the concession should be extended to more new vehicle types to help reduce harmful emissions.