Leading road transport body Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand is calling on the Government to provide certainty on the fuel excise reductions, road user charge and public transport discounts, which are currently due to expire at the end of January next year – less than three months away.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said previously that the Government is yet to make a decision on whether it extends the discounts. However, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett says the extension has now been thrown into doubt by a recent decision and road transport operators and the public need to know now.
Leggett says the Government’s re-signing of the international commitment to eradicate all fossil fuel subsidies, by Trade Minister Damien O’Connor on November 12, may compromise an extension of this much needed package.
“We want to know, does this mean the Government has ruled out any further extension of the fuel rebate package, which expires on January 31, 2023?
“It seems to me that they can’t sign this agreement on the one hand and then pretend that they haven’t made a decision on the continuation of the much-needed cost of living support package. Which one is it? Cash-strapped New Zealanders deserve some certainty.”
Leggett says the fuel discount package has provided essential relief for Kiwi households and businesses who are doing it tough.
“If Road User Charges and fuel excise go up as the Government plans from January 31, then the price of all our household goods and food carried by trucks will go up, too.
“The Prime Minister has said previously that a decision would be made ‘closer to the time’, but their assumption was that by January 31 inflation will have eased. That now looks unlikely. Transporting New Zealand’s advice is that inflation is still likely to be hovering around 7% in late January.
“If they have made a decision that they intend to ramp up the cost of living again, at least be honest about it right now so people can start adjusting their holiday budgets now.”