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LTA should encourage ‘cleaner, quieter, more energy efficient cars’: Hri Kumar

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) lost the opportunity to put forward a meaningful strategy or provide a clear vision when it announced a change to the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system earlier this week, said Member of Parliament (Bishan-Toa Payoh) Hri Kumar Nair today (Sept 15).

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) lost the opportunity to put forward a meaningful strategy or provide a clear vision when it announced a change to the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system earlier this week, said Member of Parliament (Bishan-Toa Payoh) Hri Kumar Nair today (Sept 15).

In a Facebook post, Mr Hri Kumar criticised the move to impose a cap on the engine power of cars under Category A, as “an act of appeasement”.

On Monday (Sept 9), the LTA announced that a cap on engine power will be imposed on cars under Category A of the COE system where the cars must have an engine power output of not more than 130 brake horsepower, on top of having engine capacities of not more than 1,600cc. The change, which will kick in from February next year, will bump these cars to Category B, competing with other premium models.

“The question on most lips following the latest tweak to the COE system is whether it will lower COE prices for Category A cars,” he wrote. “That is no doubt LTA’s intention.”

“But it must know that price is largely driven by the market and the number of COEs on offer. So, the change was really directed at moving certain “luxury” makes from Cat A to Cat B. In short, it was an act of appeasement, But good policy?” he questioned.

Pointing out that “no matter how it changes the COE system, the LTA is not going to satisfy everyone”, Mr Hri Kumar said: “Appeasement never works. If a system has no backbone, it will wilt under pressure.”

Mr Hri Kumar added that differentiating cars by engine capacities and power output is “meaningless”, noting how this puts cars with more efficient engines at a disadvantage.

He suggested that the LTA should focus on “what type cars to promote on our roads”.

“Very few will disagree that we should encourage cleaner, quieter, more energy efficient cars. If 1.3l turbo-charged car is cleaner and more efficient than a 1.6l car, should we not encourage more people to buy the former? What has engine power got to do with anything?” he asked.

To ensure an element of social equity, Mr Hri Kumar said this could be achieved by allocating more COEs to cleaner cars and bringing down their prices “so that they are more affordable than the less efficient cars”.

Likewise, he added that Singapore can consider pursuing a vision with more electric cars on the road.

“We will need the infrastructure to support them. But we can easily mandate that all new public and private housing developments, malls and commercial carparks have sufficient charging stations etc,” he said.

He urged: “Make it easier to buy an electric car and provide the infra-structure, and more will make the change.”

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