Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg announced a number of schemes intended to benefit people who plan to swap older vehicles for newer ones which cause less pollution. Minister Borg spoke about the problems of congestion and air pollution which we face and emphasised the importance of doing everything within our power to improve air quality. He added that his ministry is working tirelessly towards this aim, through several initiatives and by means of investing significantly in our roads.
Minister Borg described the schemes he announced as an opportunity for the Maltese and Gozitan people to benefit while simultaneously aiding in the protection of the environment by investing in cleaner means of transport. The largest allocated fund is that of €1 million, which will be available to those who scrap vehicles of a certain age in order to buy new private vehicles which fall within the M1 category (including hybrids of this type), through which they can receive up to €2,000, with the largest benefit reserved for vehicles which cause the least amount of pollution. This benefit applies to owners of private vehicles as well as a variety of businesses, organisations and departments. In 2017, 1,557 people applied for this same scheme, and 128 people applied for plug-in hybrid vehicles of the same type. Another €500,000 have been allocated for people who purchase electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric quad bikes, who as a result can benefit from a maximum of €7,000 when the purchase is combined with the scrappage of a vehicle of a certain age. The same scheme led to the registration of 73 electric vehicles in 2017, and also applies for owners of private vehicles, NGOs, local councils and businesses. Commercial vehicle companies can benefit from up to €200,000 from this scheme should they convert their fleet to an electric one. All those who intend to convert their vehicle’s fuel system to Autogas or LPG can benefit from €200 as a result of an allocation of another €50,000 through a scheme which had received 250 applications in 2017. All those who buy new pedelecs or motorbikes, mopeds, tricycles or quad bikes — all of which must be electric — can receive up to €400 as a result of the allocation of a €100,000 fund.
The Minister also announced a scheme to promote accessibility, for which the Government has allocated €100,000 and through which up to €10,000 can be received when one registers a taxi or chauffeur-driven vehicle which is wheelchair accessible, when combined with the scrappage of a vehicle of a certain age, with up to a €100,000 benefit in a year. The Ministry will also be helping importers of new vehicles who are interested in equipping their garages in order to be able to service electric vehicles and train their employees to use the equipment. Every garage can receive up to a maximum of €20,000 from a fund of €80,000.
Minister Borg said that these schemes, which amount to an investment of just over €1.8 million, are an incentive for citizens to make the necessary leap and make their own contribution towards improved air quality. He added that this year, the benefit has been improved as vehicle owners will be given a direct cheque, in an effort towards increased efficiency.
The Minister also made reference to the fact that, apart from these schemes, it is important to keep in mind the Budget 2018 scheme, which is already active, where every new or used electric vehicle is exempt from paying registration tax, and from road licence fees for the first five years. This includes motorcycles, electric mopeds, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids amongst others. This exemption is applicable to individuals, companies, NGOs, local councils and Governmental departments. Minister Ian Borg said that this is a clear sign that electro mobility is one of the main priorities for his ministry and reminded those present of the strides made last year with regards to consultation, pilot projects and schemes which promote vehicles of this type.