Plan to phase out dirty trucks hits snag over subsidy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 4:13am

Transport operators and environment officials failed yesterday to reach a consensus on a government proposal to phase out old, polluting diesel vehicles.

Environment undersecretary Christine Loh Kung-wai said after the closed-door meeting a "foundation" existed for more discussions, but reiterated it would be hard to achieve the industry's demand for an across-the-board payment for all vehicles, regardless of their age.

More meetings would be held in the future, she said.

It was the first time the two sides met after the government suggested phasing out 88,000 commercial diesel vehicles by 2019 if they could not meet Euro IV emissions standards.

Under the plan, owners can receive a subsidy covering 18 per cent to 30 per cent of the cost of a new vehicle, depending on the age of the current vehicle. Franchised buses are excluded. The government put the estimated cost of the programme at HK$10 billion.

But the industry is seeking a subsidy covering 30 per cent of the new vehicle's cost, regardless of its age. They also want the registration tax for new vehicles waived for two years.

Chiang Chi-wai, a spokesman for the Lok Ma Chau China-Hong Kong Freight Association, said after the meeting he was optimistic about future discussions with the government.

"I hope Loh will be different from other government officials. I hope she plucks up her courage, and does something new."

Chiang said the 30 per cent payment demand was reasonable. Representatives from more than 20 organisations attended the meeting, he said.