SINGAPORE - Taxi drivers will get their 15 per cent road tax rebates earlier in the form of rental deductions between mid-March and April, while the $360 in petrol duty rebates will be disbursed to them and private-hire drivers between May and August.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said this in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 24), in the wake of some unhappiness among the group - and which was also raised by several MPs in Parliament - over the hike in petrol duties announced last week, which came at a time when petrol prices were already at their highest in a year.
With demand for rides still not at the pre-Covid-19 levels, taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers are expected to be the hardest hit by the hikes.
The Workers' Party's Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), calling them a "besieged group" during the debate on the Budget statement on Wednesday, expressed concern, along with other MPs, that the rebates might reach the drivers' pockets too late.
Non-taxi and non-private hire drivers will continue to pay their existing road tax rates until July 2021. Any excess will be used to offset against the amount payable at the next renewal, said the LTA.
Said Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor: "Some have shared their concerns... especially those who rely on their vehicles for their livelihoods.
"We have worked with the unions and operators to bring forward some of the support measures, to help ease the transition for active taxi and private-hire car drivers."
The picture is less clear for private hire drivers, however. Grab, likely the largest point-to-point operator here, has committed to pass on the rebates to their drivers who lease their vehicles from April, with more details to be shared later.
Those who lease cars from Grab have a 28 per cent fuel discount at selected petrol stations, and this will continue, it said.
Gojek said it would introduce additional incentive rebates for their drivers in March and April, without specifying what these are.
The LTA urged all vehicle lessors to pass on the road tax rebates to those who are incurring the costs.
The road tax rebates and petrol duty rebates are meant to offset the increase in petrol duties for these drivers for about a year.
The petrol duty hikes - by 15 cents a litre for 98-octane and higher, and by 10 cents a litre for intermediate grade (92-octane and 95-octane) - seek to get drivers to either drive less or switch to electric cars, which are more environmentally friendly.
It was the first increase in six years, and came at a time when Singapore's electric vehicle charging infrastructure is nowhere near ready.
Separately, motorcyclists will also receive their additional petrol duty rebates via PayNow or Giro from May.