Fuel for thought

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 August, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong now has some 400,000 private cars on its roads, a number that came upon us quicker than might have been expected a few years ago. It appears accelerated growth in car ownership has been fuelled, in part, by an exemption from registration tax for drivers who opt to buy 'green'.

Might it not have been wise to keep the registration tax as it was for the environmentally minded and instead double that charged for traditional gas-guzzlers? That way, there would still have been a differential to encourage determined buyers to choose green cars - which aren't especially 'green', in any case, just slightly less destructive than the alternative - while not encouraging the 6,000-plus people who seem to have been swayed (during the year to March) by the exemption to add to the congestion and pollution on our roads.

The assumption here, of course, is that the government sees ever-expanding car ownership as a bad thing. It could just be that, having another excuse to keep sinking fortunes into roads and bridges and other bits of motor-dedicated infrastructure, our leaders are privately thrilled with developments.