04 February 2013

Brighter (and cleaner) future ahead as Senate approves Alternative Fuel Vehicles Bill

Words by Ferman Lao
senate logoAfter many years and many iterations of several bills which seek to reduce our country's fossil fuel dependency for motor vehicles, the Senate of the Philippines has finally approved the final reading House Bill No. 2856 - otherwise known as the “Electric, Hybrid, and Other Alternative Fuel Vehicles Incentives Act of 2011.” When passed into law and finally takes effect, it will allow for more affordable and more Earth-friendly vehicles - something that both private vehicle owners and public transport vehicle operators can benefit from. With a variety of alternatives to choose from, one can choose which ecologically sound fuel suits their needs best: electric, hybrid, CNG (compressed natural gas), solar, hydrogen fuel cells, liquefied petroleum gas, or methane.

Some of the incentives to be granted to encourage the use of alternative power sources include exemption from payment of excise taxes and duties for the manufacturers and importers of completely knocked down parts of electric, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicles for a period of nine years from first day the law takes effect. Conversion of vehicles into alternative fuel vehicles is also exempt.
Additionally, the purchase and importation of raw materials, spare parts, components, and capital equipment to be used in the manufacture or assembly of said vehicles are exempted from Value Added Tax for the same period of time.

There are also benefits for motorists and transport companies who choose to adopt the use of said vehicle, such as:
    1. Exemption of payment of Motor Vehicle Usage Charge (MVUC).
    2. Priority in registration and issuance of plate number.
    3. Provision for free parking spaces in new establishments.
    4. Priority in franchise application for public utility operators who will exclusively be using electric, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicles including renewal for a period of nine years.
    5. Exemption from the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or Number Coding scheme implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other local government units concerned.

With such strong incentives, the government signals that it is truly serious about cleaning up the air, encouraging the development of clean air technology, and improving the lives of its citizens.

Personally, as a motorist, I welcome the incentives granted to future and prospective owners of alternative fuel vehicles. Exemption alone from the UVVRP is strong incentive enough. It gives owners of said vehicles renewed mobility by allowing the full use of the vehicles at all times. However, how it will impact the ever worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila is also a concern. One hopes that the implementation of the law will also be accompanied by improved services of the Land Transport Organization by strict licensure and renewal procedures, apart from true proper traffic law enforcement, as well as proper adherence and cooperation of all road users which include commuters, pedestrians, and motorist.

The road to the future finally gets a spark of hope, and it's up to everyone to make it that much brighter.