Marcos to slash tariffs on EVs, parts

A SIGN is pictured on an electric car charging station at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2017. — REUTERS

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., has approved an executive order (EO) that will slash tariffs on some electric vehicles (EVs), as well as guidelines for public-private partnership projects (PPPs) and a new P11.42-billion fisheries and coastal resiliency project.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the EO, which will be issued by Malacañang, will temporarily bring down the most favored nation (MFN) tariff rates to zero percent on completely built-up units (CBU) of some EVs for five years.

The order will cover EVs such as passenger cars, buses, mini-buses, vans, trucks, motorcycles, tricycles, scooters, and bicycles, but excludes hybrid-type EVs.

It will also temporarily cut tariffs on certain EV parts and components to 1% from 5% for five years, Mr. Balisacan added.

“The EO aims to expand market sources and encourage consumers to consider acquiring EVs, improve energy security by reducing dependence on imported fuel and promote the growth of the domestic EV industry ecosystem,” he said.

Mr. Balisacan, vice chairperson of the NEDA Board, said the tariff adjustments will have to be reviewed after one year of implementation to assess its impact on the development of the domestic EV industry.

“The objective of this tariff reduction is to ensure there are enough e-vehicles around [and] incentives for service providers for chargers to be set up. Those things will not come in if they don’t see a market,” Mr. Balisacan said.

Earlier this year, then-President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed a law that accelerates the shift to EVs by requiring operators to use electric cars for at least 5% of their fleet.

George T. Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed the EO but said it will not automatically translate into a significant increase in EV users in the Philippines.

In a phone call, Mr. Barcelon said the government should also ensure that there are facilities that will support massive adoption of EVs, noting that the country needs more charging stations to make EVs more appealing to consumers.

Several companies such as Ayala Land, Inc., Robinsons Land, Inc. and Manila Electric Co. have recently opened EV charging stations in malls around Metro Manila.

Mr. Barcelon said he expects the country to import more EVs from China and Vietnam which are cheaper than those from Western countries.

“This is a watershed moment for EV adoption, as this ensures better prices for all types of EVs,” Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst, said in a Messenger chat. “Removing tariffs will make EVs more affordable for the mass affluent and mass market as the government forgoes parts of its revenue to encourage adoption.”

Aside from importing EVs, Mr. Ridon said the government should also include value-added tax removal in its list of incentives to encourage more consumers to shift towards EVs.

Consumers in the Philippines currently need to shell out $21,000 to $49,000 for an EV versus the $19,000 to $26,000 price for conventional vehicles.

Of the country’s more than five million registered automotives, only 9,000 are electric, mostly passenger vehicles, government data show. Personal EVs account for just 1% of the market, and are mostly owned by the extremely wealthy, data from the United States’ International Trade Administration show.

The Southeast Asian nation’s automotive sector relies mostly on imported fuel. It also buys oil and coal abroad for its energy generation needs, making it vulnerable to price volatility.

PPP GUIDELINESMeanwhile, Mr. Balisacan said the NEDA Board, which held its first meeting under the Marcos administration on Thursday, also approved guidelines on the processing of PPP proposals.

He said the new rules will “harmonize” the review and approval of the NEDA Board and the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC). Government agencies will now prepare and submit PPP projects with the joint evaluation of the NEDA Secretariat, the PPP Center, and the Department of Finance.

The new rules also include the updated list of documentary requirements for solicited and unsolicited PPP proposals.

The issuance of the guidelines is in line with the recently revised implementing rules and regulations of the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

PROJECT APPROVALAt the same time, the NEDA Board approved the Philippine Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) project, and greenlit changes for five other projects.

The FishCoRe project under the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources aims to improve management of fishery resources and improve fisheries production.

The NEDA Board approved the Department of Transportation’s request to use savings, extend the loan validity and change the scope of a maritime safety project that involves the acquisition of response vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard.

It also greenlit a request by the DoTr to extend the loan validity by 19 months for an air traffic management system project in Manila.

Also approved was the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) request to extend by 12 months the implementation period and loan validity for the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project.

The NEDA Board also approved the DPWH’s request to change the scope of work, increase the cost and reallocate contingency costs for a disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation project in Macabebe, Masantol, Minalin, and Sto. Tomas in the province of Pampanga.

Also approved was the Philippine Competition Commission’s move to change the scope of its capacity building plan. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza with Reuters

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