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By Roy Stephen C. Canivel

The Department of Trade and Industry is urging lawmakers to pass a pending bill that would spend over P50 billion to subsidize consumers to buy electric vehicles, a nudge that would hopefully prompt buyers to make what is arguably the greener choice. 

DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba on Tuesday said that other countries have been incentivizing their citizens to buy electric cars, such as subsidies in Japan for consumers who would trade in their old cars for more fuel efficient vehicles, or tax exemptions for EV manufacturers in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 

Here in the Philippines, more work needs to be done to put up an environment that would support the growth of the industry. The DTI had previously expected the country would sell 6.6 million electric vehicles — from passenger cars to trucks and motorcycles—by 2030, around half of which were targeted to be locally manufactured. 

Subsidies both for the supply and demand side of the market would help make that vision into reality. The DTI has been pushing to include more than P80 billion in fiscal support under the pending Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act, or Senate Bill No. 1382. 

But the pandemic was not part of the equation back when the DTI made its 2030 targets for the industry. With the country in recession and auto sales on a steep decline, Aldaba stressed the importance of passing the bill, which have stimulus measures that could create new jobs. 

During the virtual pre-event press conference for the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit yesterday, Aldaba said the pandemic might push back the DTI’s outlook for the industry by two years at most. 

The eighth PEVS is a three-day virtual conference scheduled on Sept. 24-26 focusing on electric vehicle adoption and the challenges and opportunities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic on both the supply and demand side of the EV market.

“With the pandemic, with the crisis that we are experiencing, with the recession and everything, of course this is going to affect the demand for vehicles in general, and specifically as well to EVs,” said Aldaba, who heads  DTI’s competitiveness and innovation group.

“So to speed up the process, to shorten the decline of the auto industry as well as to jumpstart the development of the EV industry, the legislation would really be vital because it’s going to provide the stimulus that we so badly need at this point to help in the recovery process,” she said.  

Back in July, Aldaba said the plan initially involved about P30 billion for manufacturers of buses, trucks, public utility vehicles as well as to charging stations.

She said another P53 billion would be set aside as fiscal support for consumers who would buy electric jeepneys as well as electric two- and three-wheel motorcycles.

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