Syrians get tax break to dump old cars
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree Saturday allowing purchasers of new cars a large cut in import duty, in a bid to encourage the scrapping of polluting elderly vehicles, the official news agency SANA said.
The move is expected to provoke a radical change in the Syrian street scene, where American gas-guzzlers up to 50 years old are a familiar sight.
The decree refers to private vehicles built in or before 1960 and taxis and public vehicles dating from 1970 or earlier. They must be replaced before 2003 to benefit from the tax break, and only by a new car of no more than 1.6-liter engine size.
Cars weighing less than one ton currently face import duty of 160 percent. The new measure would slash this to 110 percent. After 2003 owners of cars built between 1961 and 1970 will be able to enjoy the same advantages, SANA said.
Private car owners can choose to hang on to their old cars, but will have to pay more for the registration document, while taxis and public vehicles must be scrapped.
Last July the government authorized the private sector to import vehicles, ending a state monopoly introduced after the ruling Baath party took power in 1963 in a bid to control foreign currency movements.
With its 17 million inhabitants, Syria has just 1.2 million vehicles, or 75 for every 1,000 people. High taxes and the former state monopoly means they are among the oldest in the world on average, making the country a paradise for lovers of classic cars. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)