FINANCIAL measures proposed by the Government to combat traffic congestion are doomed to fail, according to a tax expert. A partner with accountancy firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Joseph Fu Chi-kwong, said the proposed tax increases would only have a short-term impact and would attack only those who could just afford cars. Very often those were the ones who really needed cars, he said. According to the proposals unveiled by the Secretary for Transport Haider Barma this month, first-time registration tax will rise by 70 per cent for all types of cars; annual licence fees will be up $1,525 to $4,800; and tunnel fees will double to $20. Mr Fu said the increases were insignificant in percentage terms. For example, the rise in licence fees was only about a month's rental of a car park. He believed these rises would not deter people - except, for instance, those who had just left university - from buying cars. Many executives would be able to pass on the extra costs to their companies, which would then be reflected in their prices and, therefore, inflation. 'Unless the fees are set at a prohibitively high level, the fiscal measures will not be able to price people out,' he said. To achieve the deterrent effect, the taxes had to be raised to a level comparable to those in Singapore, which saw a 16-month-old Honda Civic fetching HK$514,000 and a 12-year-old Honda Accord priced at HK$236,250. If the Government went to that extreme, it would be trying to eliminate the problem rather than solve it, he said. 'Having a car is an achievement for the working class. It is a standard of living,' Mr Fu said. He accused the Government of failing to establish a causal link between the presence of cars and traffic jams and provide alternative proposals in the consultation paper. 'The administration is simply hard-selling its proposals,' he said. Mr Fu said the Government should look at ways to improve traffic and speed management, encourage the use of electronic road pricing and see whether policemen were better than traffic lights at directing traffic at busy spots. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance said it was unfair to blame cars for serious traffic congestion. It said the cause was the Government's improper planning of infrastructure and road networks. The proposed fiscal measures would only have a short-term impact and electronic road pricing was difficult to implement, it said. One of the main causes for traffic congestion was the lack of links between the various modes of public transport. For example, the Kowloon-Canton Railway and the Mass Transit Railway only intersected in Kowloon Tong. The proliferation of cargo trucks also posed a serious burden on road system. The political group suggested banning trucks from tunnels during rush hours, minimising road digging and encouraging developers to build more car parks. Mr Barma could not be reached for comment last night. The Government is calling for public comment on the proposals until January 31.