With or without tax revision, import of vehicles continue to rise

Imports: About 13 new vehicles hit the roads everyday after the government lifted the ban on import of vehicles since last July.

Records with Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) show that a total of 1,993 vehicles were imported in five months since July. From 63 new registrations in July, the highest was imported in November with 604 registrations. In a month, about 398 vehicles were imported as of November, which is equivalent to imports in 2011 prior to the ban.

In 2011, as per records, 4,752 vehicles were imported, which averages to about 396 vehicles a month.

The increased taxation on vehicles taken as fiscal measures to curb Rupee outflow and reduce imports has not hindered people from buying vehicles.

The general manager of Hyundai motors said that except for a few bookings for Korean manufactured vehicles, a majority of the import were Indian cars. Hyundai motors imported around 300 small cars from India after the ban was lifted.

A private employee, Sonam Dorji said people still opt for new vehicles despite the new taxation and stricter lending conditions imposed by banks.

“The price doesn’t matter at the end of the day,” he said, adding he was also planning to book a vehicle soon.

As per the revised taxation Indian manufactured cars less than 1,500cc like Maruti Alto and Hyundai Santro, 45 percent sales tax and 10 percent green tax are levied.

Vehicles of cylinder capacity, not exceeding 1,500cc, but those imported from third countries, are imposed 100 percent tax – 45 percent customs duty, 45 percent sales tax and 10 percent green tax.  This is an increase of 55 percent from 45 percent previously.

For vehicles exceeding 1,500cc but not exceeding 1,799cc, a total tax of 115 percent is levied including customs duty and sales tax of 50 percent each and 15 percent green tax. This was an increase by 65 percent from 50 percent.

For cylinder between 1,799-2,500cc, customs duty and sales tax was revised to 50 percent each, plus a green tax of 20 percent, amounting to 120 percent, which was earlier 65 percent. For cylinder capacity of 2,500 to 3,000cc is 125 percent, including 25 percent green tax, which is an increase of 50 percent from the existing 70 percent tax.

A total tax of 180 percent is levied on vehicles exceeding 3,000cc, inclusive of 100 percent customs duty, 50 percent sales tax and 30 percent green tax.

Records with financial institutions also show more people availing vehicle loan since the ban was lifted.

Bhutan National Bank sanctioned Nu 89M for 186 vehicles between September and December, last year while Bank of Bhutan sanctioned Nu 77.57M after the vehicle ban was lifted. As of 2011, before the ban was imposed, the bank approved 1,090 transport loans worth Nu 896.346M.

The most popular vehicle that hit the roads right after the ban was lifted is the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800. With the revised taxation, the price for Alto 800 ranges from Nu 370,000 to Nu 470,000.

Meanwhile, as of November, the country has a total of 68,685 vehicles. Thimphu has the highest with 36,273 vehicles followed by Phuentsholing with 24,904 and Samdrupjongkhar with 4,085 vehicles.

By Dechen Tshomo and Younten Tshedup