Motorists will be required to dig deeper into their pockets with the announcement of increases in drivers’ licence and motor vehicle licence.
Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves said that included in this year’s Budget were a few fiscal measures aimed at enhancing revenue collection.
“These measures are designed to adjust user fees and licenses to keep pace with the costs of providing the various associated services, and to introduce new user fees where new services have emerged,” he said.
One such increase in fees was that of drivers’ licence which according to Gonsalves was last reviewed in 2016.
“The time has now come to increase these fees given the passage of time and the inevitable increases in costs incurred in the delivery of these services,” he explained.
This measure was expected to yield EC$2 million in additional income.
So too, motor vehicle licence was last reviewed in 2016 Gonsalves noted.
“In light of the condition of our road networks, the increased traffic on the road, and the continuous impact of weather events, Budget 2024 allocates in excess of EC$70 million for road repair and rehabilitation, and the construction of new roads,” said the minister of finance.
But while the increase in fees was not expected to be sufficient to meet the full cost of these repairs, it was expected to contribute to doing so.
“Accordingly, motor vehicle licences for all classes of motor vehicles will be increased in 2024,” he said.
He added that the new fees make provisions for licence fees for new categories of Goods Vehicles to capture the heavier trucks and larger trailers that were now using the roads daily.
As part of the fiscal measures, Gonsalves announced increases in the Electrical Inspection Fees.
Gonsalves explained that over the years, the Electrical Inspectorate Department had grown in importance as the residential and commercial environment had expanded.
He went on to say that the department was the principal regulatory body that ensured that all electrical installations in all buildings throughout the country was safe.
“The Electrical Inspection Fees were last increased in 1995.”
And in that year, the office had 7 staff members and an expenditure budget of EC$195,669.
However in 2024, the staff had grown to 18 and had a budget of EC$911,017 including an additional EC$110,000 for staff training.
Persons using the Argyle International Airport will also find themselves paying a little more for the Airport Service Charge which is expected to increase from US$40 to US$55.
“This charge which is payable on all airline tickets for travel in and out of the country, goes directly to fund operations of Argyle International Airport,” Gonsalves said.
And even with the proposed increase, it remains the lowest airport service charge in the region, he continued.
This measure is estimated to generate EC$6.6 million in revenue, and will be in effect from May 1, 2024.
There was some good news for personal income tax standard deductions with the announcement that in addition to the adjustment in annual standard deductions in 2023 from EC$20,000 to EC$22,000, Budget 2024 sees an increase in the personal income tax threshold by 25 percent raising it to EC$25,000.
“This is a genuine, people centred benefit for every Vincentian taxpayer,” he said adding that the measure was expected to cost the government EC$6.6 million in loss revenue.
Incentives continue for persons to purchase newer, smaller engine motor vehicles, and Gonsalves announced that between January 1, 2024 and June 30, 2024 all new tyres imported will enjoy a duty reduction of 50 percent.
“Before this measure, motorcycle and industrial vehicle tyres attracted a 5 percent duty, tyres for buses and lorries were charged 15 percent, and motor car tyres 25 percent,” Gonsalves said.
“After receiving reports from multiple sources concerning the low quality of some of the used tyres on the market, we hope that this measure will incentivise an investment in safer, longer-lasting tyres, that are better-suited to our curvy, mountainous and often rain-slicked roads,” he continued.