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Singapore Budget 2021 strengthens use of electric vehicles with S$30 million

After a year of turmoil in unprecedented economical stress that Singapore went through, the battle against COVID-19 remains far from over. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat of Finance on Tuesday, 16 Feb 2021 announced that Budget 2021 will shift “from containment to restructuring” as Singapore’s economy continues to reopen.

As part of the initiative to move on from the negative effects brought upon by the pandemic, the government further encouraged the early adoption of shifting from traditional petrol-fuelled vehicles to electric vehicles or EVs. The Government will allocate S$30 million for projects and initiatives supporting the shift. They will also introduce more incentives to narrow the “cost differential” between electric cars and internal combustion engine cars, announced Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech.

The initial move will come in the form of lowering the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) floor to zero for electric cars from Jan 2022 to Dec 2023. The ARF is a tax paid when registering a vehicle and is calculated based on a percentage of a vehicle’s Open Market Value – the cost of a vehicle imported into Singapore.

The move will allow mass-market electric car buyers to maximize the rebates from the EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI). The EV Early Adoption Incentive (EEAI) allows those who buy fully electric cars and taxis to receive a rebate of up to 45 % on the ARF. Such a rebate is capped at S$20,000. This initiative will run up to Jan 31, 2023.

Besides, there will also be a revision of the road tax bands. This will further aid mass-market electric cars to have road tax comparable to an internal combustion engine equivalent. Further details on these plans will be provided at the Committee of Supply debates in Parliament, which the Deputy Minister of Finance noted. There will also be an adjustment to petrol duties to further aid the transition. Premium petrol will be raised by ¢15 per litre, while a ¢10 per litre will be added to intermediate petrol.

This builds on the announcement in last year’s Budget where a series of measures including the EEAI, were introduced as part of Singapore’s vision to have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040. Late last year, it was also announced that under the enhanced Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES), there would be an increase in rebates for cleaner vehicles, as well as an increased surcharge for more pollutive vehicles. The enhanced VES will last until Dec 31, 2022.

Along with the EEAI which also began at the start of the year, buyers of new fully electric cars could save up to S$45,000, while buyers of new fully electric taxis can save as much as S$57,500.

The government described electric vehicles as the most promising clean energy vehicle technology today, prompting Singapore to set aside S$30 million over the next five years for electric vehicle-related initiatives. This includes measures to improve charging provision at private premises.

They also believe that this move will catalyse the partnership between the public and private sectors. This will also accelerate the development of its charging infrastructure to better support the growth of electric vehicles in the next decade.

Echoing an announcement made in Singapore’s Green Plan last week, the Deputy Prime Minister for Finance added that the country will aim to deploy 60,000 charging points at public car parks and private premises by 2030, more than double its initial target of 28,000. The Singapore government further stated that technology is changing the future of transport, while we are going car-lite, we can further reduce emissions by switching to cleaner energy vehicles.

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