By Constantinos Psillides
CAR owners who haven’t paid their road tax will get a chance to do so at a possible 30 per cent discount, according to a bill introduced at the House on Thursday.
The bill was requested by the Road Transport Department (RTD), whose officials said they had received a large number of requests from people who wanted to settle their road tax debt but couldnot afford the full amount.
According to the bill, people who are behind in their road tax payments can either pay the full amount right away and get a 30 per cent discount or agree on 12 monthly payments, in which case they will get a 15 per cent discount.
“It’s easier for us and it will help a lot of people. There are no courts involved and we don’t have to go around knocking on people’s doors asking them to pay their road tax,” acting head of RTD Petros Xenofontos told the Cyprus Mail, in defence of his department decision.
“There are a lot of people who fell behind in their road tax and had their cars deleted from the registry, effectively making it illegal to drive them. A large number of them need their cars for their jobs. We had to come up with a way to help these people and get some of the money owed to the state,” added Ksenofontos, saying that some people wanted to pay their 2013 road tax but couldn’t due to past non-payment.
A car is automatically stricken off the registry if the road tax is not paid for three consecutive years.
The bill angered some MPs. Opposition AKEL said the proposal was essentially rewarding people for not adhering to the law.
The bill drew heavy criticism from the public, with some going as far as declaring their intention never to pay road tax again.
“People have to understand that this is a one time thing. It aims at dealing with the accumulated problem in one stroke,” claimed Xenofontos.
But the Road Transport Department doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to “firm and final decisions”. In an attempt to deal with people who waited up to the very last moment to pay their road tax, the RTD made it abundantly clear that under no circumstances would an extension be given and that February 9 was absolutely the last day to pay. Failing to pay the road tax after February 9 would result to a penalty, the RTD had said, only to have the House vote on a month’s extension on February 5.
The new bill will provide people with a six-month window to settle their debt. Failure to do so or failure to keep the agreement made with the RTD will result in legal action.
House Communication and Works Committee chairman and DIKO MP Antonis Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail that he fully understood why people were upset. “Of course is not fair to them. I can understand why their angry and we will take this under consideration when discussing the bill. On the other hand, the RTD said that they needed this arrangement to resolve chronic problems. We will evaluate everything and come up with a finalised bill,” said Antoniou.
Discussion on the subject will commence in June, since the House is in recess due to the coming euro elections on May 25.