Pakistan government unveils plan to convert transport system into electric vehicles

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Pakistan government unveils plan to convert transport system into electric vehicles

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Thursday said that introducing modern and environmental-friendly transport system through electric vehicles was of unprecedented importance to efforts for coping with Pakistan’s air pollution woes and making cities clean and green under Imran Khan’s world-acclaimed green agenda.

“Introducing electric vehicles in the country’s ailing transport system are pivotal for modernising it and reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and smog, improving public health and reducing ecological damage,” he highlighted while chairing a high-level meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Oversight Committee on National Electric Vehicles Policy (NEVP) held at the Climate Change Ministry.

He told the participants from ministries of energy, commerce and automobile manufacturing organisations that while the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced the National Electric Vehicle Policy (NEVP), all the government and non-governmental stakeholders must work hand-in-hand to meet the electric vehicle policy targets.

In the policy, it approved in November 2019 that the government set a target to bring half a million electric motorcycles and rickshaws, along with more than 100,000 electric cars, buses and trucks, into the transportation system in the next five years. “By 2030 under the policy, the government wants to have about one-third of the vehicles running on electrical energy,” he said.

“Indeed, the move to electric vehicles is a win-win initiative for all stakeholders, the public and environment, he said, adding that transport sector was a major source of environmental pollution and cause of global climate crisis. To solve these issues, there was dire need for making the vehicles on roads as clean as possible, he said.

He said that planet-warming carbon emissions from cars and trucks were not only bad for the planet, they’re bad for health. Because, air pollutants from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles cause asthma, bronchitis, cancer, and premature death, he said. He said that the long-term health impacts of localized air pollution last a lifetime, with effects borne out in asthma attacks, lung damage, and heart conditions.

The participants from automobile sector apprised the PM’s aide of various difficulties, which hamper full-fledged move towards transformation of the country’s ailing transport sector including lack of support from relevant ministries for introducing more efficient battery charging system and setting up infrastructure.

They apprised the aide about the registration-related issues that automobile and vehicle battery manufacturing companies and end users are grappled with myriad issues from the excise and taxation departments in registering electric vehicles, as there are many stakeholders involved in the registration process and that registration is still done on the basis of the equivalent ‘cc’ in internal combustion engine-based vehicles, which incurs high registration cost.

He said that this discourages prospective buyers from owning an electric vehicles. Also, the relaxation in registration cost and token tax offered by the NEVP has not been implemented by many provinces, they said. Talking about the taxation-related issues, the automobile industries’ representatives told the special assistant that NEVP authorizes import of electric vehicles specific parts and components at one percent custom duty and their sale at one percent % GST.

However, companies are experiencing challenges in interpretation of rules and regulations by FBR’s Customs and Inland Revenue Department dictating import of electric vehicles specific parts and components. The industry representatives told Amin Aslam that despite repeated requests and reminders, the GST on charging stations has not brought down from 17 percent.

Charging stations are hardly profitable from business perspective and so much so even at one percent GST. However, 17 percent GST would only discourage investment by the private sector in developing the required electric vehicles charging infrastructure in the country, which can critically impact the electric vehicles penetration targets set in the policy.

Amin Aslam assured the private sector of his fullest support in addressing these issues by involving all relevant government organisations including ministries to provide enabling environment for pushing up use of electric vehicle as a part of the incumbent government’s vision for clean and green Pakistan.

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