Govt mulls tax cut for microbuses

The government might slash taxes for importing parts of 20-seater microbuses as an incentive for passenger van operators to switch to using microbuses for transport safety.

The average price of a 20-seater microbus using imported parts is about 1.8 million baht apiece and the government is considering bringing the cost down to around 1.6 million baht each by reducing the tax, said Somsak Hommuang, deputy permanent secretary for transport.

He discussed the policy at a meeting on Monday aimed to encourage passenger van operators to change to larger microbuses.

Held at the Transport Ministry, the meeting was attended by the Finance Ministry, the Customs Department, the Industry Ministry, and operators of passenger vans.

A new passenger van costs about 1.3 million baht on average and there are about 16,000 of them now running in Bangkok and serving inter-provincial routes including those operated by the Transport Co and private operators, he said.

The government expects to replace most of the 15-seater vans with 20-seater microbuses by 2022, he said.

The vans will either be replaced or stop running after the tax incentive kicks in.

Details of the microbus tax incentive programme -- to help van operators shoulder the rise in the costs of operating the microbuses -- will be finalised at the next meeting on March 31, he said.

"The Finance Ministry and the Customs Department both agree that it's possible to lower the taxes for this purpose," he said.

The Industry Ministry, however, pointed out at the meeting that some local operators are perfectly capable of producing quality 20-seater microbuses, so imports may not be needed.

The ministry also needs an assurance the policy will not be changed in the near future if this is the course adopted, Mr Somsak said.

He added the ministry also wants to know roughly how many microbuses will be needed.

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