The Netherlands is set to become the first country in Europe to replace road tax with a kilometer charge for all motorists, over 10 years since the idea was first put forward.
If the legislation is passed by parliament, motorists will start paying tax on every kilometer they drive, which the government hopes will reduce traffic jams and pollution.
On Friday, ministers agreed that the tax will be three cents a kilometer when the charge is introduced in 2012, rising to 6.7 cents by 2018 – for the greenest cars . But if revenues generated by the tax are not in line with expectations, the tax can be adjusted, the transport ministry said.
The tax will be higher during the rush hour and for more polluting vehicles.
To make sure motorists are not worse off, road tax will be scrapped and the purchase tax on new cars will be reduced. Some 60% of drivers will be better off, the government claims.
The transport ministry said on Friday it expected fatal accidents will fall by 7% and carbon emissions would be down by 10%. Traffic jams will be halved and the amount of kilometres driven will go down by 15%.
Each car on the roads will be fitted with a GPS device which will use satellites to monitor where and when the car is driven and send the information to a central billing point.
The ministry said the information collected about motoring habits would be ‘legally and technically’ protected and would not be accessible to other government agencies.
The ANWB motoring organisation and green groups welcomed the final go-ahead for the kilometer tax. At last it means ‘a fair cost for mobility,’ ANWB director Guido van Woerkom told the Volkskrant.
But some opposition MPs say the tax will be used by the government to generate extra income and is a danger to privacy.
‘Even in the former Soviet Union they did not have as much control,’ Liberal VVD MP Charlie Aptrots said in the Telegraaf.
Aptrots said the government should put the estimated €4bn start-up cost for the scheme into improving the road network and other anti-congestion measures.
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