Drivers seek help over rising fuel costs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am

Cut licence fee, scrap diesel tax, says union

People who drive vehicles to earn a living have demanded the government lower the licence fee and abolish the tax on diesel fuel, since its price has increased with the cost of oil.

About 15 officials from the Motor Transport Workers General Union, representing around 30,000 bus, lorry, van and taxi drivers, and driving instructors, met the deputy commissioner of the Transport Department, Carolina Yip Lai-ching, yesterday.

The union demanded that the fee for 10-year motor vehicle licences be lowered from HK$900 to HK$600 and the tax on diesel fuel lifted. The representatives also handed a petition to an officer from the department.

The chairman of the union, Pang Kong-cheung, said after the meeting they had received a positive response to their demands, and that the official had promised to give the petition to the financial secretary.

Mr Pang said the professional drivers were facing difficulties because of the increased fuel price and the challenges from railway companies.

'The government is going to record a large surplus at the end of the financial year, but we will not share in the economic benefit. We are also facing a decline in business,' Mr Pang said.

He said that the government planned to boost the number of railway passengers from 30 per cent to 50 per cent, which would mean a drop in passengers for other forms of transport.

The union also suggested the government subsidise their businesses.

It said the recent oil price surge had caused a HK$5,000-a-month fuel price increase for bus drivers and a HK$3,000 increase for van and lorry drivers. Taxi drivers had had an increase of HK$2,000 per month for LPG.

The union said driving instructors' businesses were suffering and it wanted the government to cancel their HK$760 licence fee.

The director for the union's driving instructor branch, Leung Chek-wa, said there were about 700 independent instructors in addition to those at driving schools and the School of Motoring. 'We need to maintain the motor vehicle and pay the car parking fees even with less business,' Mr Leung said.

He also urged the government to scrap the fee for a probationary driver's licence to encourage more young people to learn.