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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Think-tank urges gov’t to lift import barriers for EVs

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Think-tank Stratbase Institute is urging the government to lift importation barriers to electric vehicles (EVs) and to immediately pass a law that amends the limiting provisions of the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA).

Stratbase Institute president Victor Andres Manhit said the EVIDA, which was passed in 2022, said amendments to the law will demonstrate the Philippines’ international commitment to decrease its carbon emissions and to be less dependent on ‘dirty’ sources of energy like fossil fuels.

“We have to create opportunities for more Filipinos to live sustainably with affordable electric vehicles,” Manhit said.

The institute is supporting the immediate passage of HB 9573 authored by House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Chairman, Representative Joey Salceda which seeks to “to further amend Republic Act (“RA”) No. 11697 or the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (“EVIDA”),   in order to boost our country’s commitments to   the international community under the Paris Agreement, as well as to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

“We fully support the amendments proposed by HB 9573 specifically: to expand the definition of EVs to include two-, three-, and four-wheeled vehicles or such other vehicles with at least one electric drive for vehicle propulsion which may include a BEV, a hybrid electric vehicle, light electric vehicle, and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – and to make EVs more accessible, a zero percent tariff rate on the importation of completely built electric vehicles,” Manhit said.

In 2023, the EVIDA spurred a sixfold growth in the sales of electric cars from the previous year’s levels.

“This is all laudable, and it tells us that more Filipinos are willing to do the environmentally right thing while addressing their transportation and mobility needs,” Manhit said.

He added, however, that more people would be able to afford clean modes of transportation by rectifying the limiting interpretations of the EVIDA would be lifted and if two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles would also be granted the same tax incentives as expensive four-wheeled EVs.

“Imagine this. Some 60% of electric vehicles are two-wheeled. This means that the majority of electric vehicles do not even benefit from tax incentives granted by law,” said Manhit.

He also said that two-wheeled electric vehicles are most affordable, being only 3% the price of an electric car. “Given this, more and more Filipinos, given the worsening traffic situation and the soaring

prices of fuel, could now consider buying their own two-wheeled electric vehicles that are environmentally sustainable, having zero emissions.”

Manhit pointed out that it looks patently discriminatory and anti-poor to limit the incentives for electric vehicles to those who could afford to buy the four-wheel variety. This limited view also does nothing to stop – and in fact worsens – the traffic congestion in the city.

Manhit furthered that, “As the Philippines has transitions to meet commitments to reduce fossil fuel emissions in the Paris Agreement, it is expected that our policy leaders may be pressured by conventional vehicle manufacturers to delay the shift to EVs. We urge our legislators to be steadfast and accelerate policy reforms that will align with the global urgency to mitigate the looming planetary climate crisis.”

“We have to be open and even be more aggressive to be more responsive as we go along, so that we do not frustrate the law’s goals with shortsightedness. Ultimately, we want more Filipinos to have access to sustainable means of transportation, those that are also affordable and would not contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution, and those that can enhance their productivity and quality of life,” Manhit said.

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