By Constantinos Psillides
OWNERS of gas-guzzlers and high emission vehicles are taking the brunt of the road tax increase, with some people paying 100 euros more than they did last year.
The reason behind the steep increase for large engine vehicles (such as pick-ups or vans) is the abolition of the 299 euro ceiling, which was the maximum one would for each car.
Parliament decided last September that all car owners should pay road tax according to the vehicle’s horse power and its CO2 emission, essentially applying the same criteria of saloon cars to larger vehicles.
The state also slapped an across-the-board increase in road tax, depending on CO2 emissions, charging vehicle owners €12, €22 or €32.
Asked by the Cyprus Mail to comment on the increase for the large engine capacity owners
Petros Xenofontos, acting head of the Road Transport Department, told the Cyprus Mail that he was aware of the problem with large engine vehicles but there was not much he could do.
“We have been getting complaints from people but we are just implementing what the parliament decided. We are indeed troubled but there’s not much we can do”, he admitted.
Xenofontos speculated that the current economic climate, along with the prospect of a heavy fine, were the reasons that lead a lot of people to ask for a vehicle immobilisation license. Such vehicles aren’t subject to a road tax but cannot be driven and if the owner wants to reinstate them he has to pay the road tax in full.
The deputy head of the Road Transport Department said vehicle immobilisation requests doubled in 2013, while 7,000 vehicles were issued an immobilisation permit in 2012.
Payments for the 2014 road tax started on Tuesday and according to Xenofontos 50,000 vehicles out of 650,000 have already been paid.
The deadline for paying the tax is February 9 and Xenofontos reiterated that no extensions will be given, under any circumstances. Anyone paying the tax after the deadline will be fined an extra 30 euros, plus 10 per cent over the road tax owed.
Police also warned that anyone caught not having paid the road tax will be fined 85 euros.
Payments can be made on the Road Transport official website (www.mcw.gov.cy), at any commercial bank, the Department’s district offices and the district offices of the Citizens Service Centres (CSC).
The Nicosia CSC was packed yesterday and visitors weren’t happy about paying the road tax. According to the supervisor, the Centre averages 2,500 requests each day for various government services.
“This is rubbish, its government sanctioned theft, that’s what it is”, said Marios, 56, who owns a moving company.
“I have one van and two pick-up tracks and now I have to pay over €100 extra on road tax. How are they expecting people to cope when they are bleeding us dry?” he wondered, blaming politicians and the troika of international lenders for the financial situation.
Panayiotis, 61, from Nicosia also wasn’t happy about the road tax increase.
“They slashed my pension, I can barely afford my medicines and now they are increasing the road tax. I know it’s only a €22 increase but it adds up. I barely make it to the end of the month”, said the pensioner, clarifying that he would gladly pay the tax if the money was properly used.
“If the money collected was used to fix roads or on buses, I would be fine. I would understand why they need the increase. But the road network, especially in the mountain areas where I live, is still in shambles. It’s the same road network for the last 20 years. The government takes the money and squanders it on other things”, he said.
Ariadni, 23, had a different take on the subject. “I don’t mind paying the extra €12 on my car. I don’t much use it anyway because I go around on my bike. I saved money on gas anyway.
“I think it’s good that the government is making people who own vehicles that are polluting our air to pay more. Maybe now they would think twice about buying such cars”, she said.
This is also the first year the Road Department imposed a road tax on bus companies. The total sum depends on bus capacity and it ranges from 100 to 300 euros.