Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development Sylvester Clauzel has said plans are underway to introduce new concessions for importing energy-efficient vehicles and hybrids.
Following a Rubis function Tuesday, Clauzel told media operatives that government will make an announcement in this regard on these new concession rates in matter of weeks from now.
He said the new rates are aimed at encouraging the introduction of energy efficient vehicles in St Lucia.
“That decision takes time to implement, because one has to consider the revenue implication for those concessions and of course other obvious implications like the technology involved. It is still expensive,” he added.
Clauzel pointed out that importing vehicles are still very expensive even with current concessions. In addition, there must be recharging stations island-wide to make it feasible venture.
“So these things take time to put these types of things in place. So what the government has done it has looked at it overtime and the Ministry of Finance has made specific recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers that will look at concessions on a wide range of vehicles that are either hybrid or electric.”
However, at present there have been concerns that there are too many vehicles in St. Lucia. Asked whether there are plans to phase out the older models of vehicle, Clauzel said the government is hoping that that will happen overtime.
Recognising the already high costs of purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles, Clauzel pointed to one example last year, in which a car dealer imported electric vehicles but was unable to sell at a competitive price.
He said government only provides concession on these items on a temporary basis for emerging technologies.
Nearly all vehicles are imported into Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that include St Lucia. Second hand vehicles represent half or more of imports each year. Some Caricom countries have age restrictions on imports, such as Jamaica, which limits the age of light duty vehicles to five years.
There are fairly high tariffs on imports possibly creating opportunities for differential taxation of vehicles on the basis of emissions.