Carbon tax

As from the first of this month, a tax of R85.50 (incl VAT) decorates the price of new passenger motor vehicles for every gram of CO2 per kilometer the vehicle emits over 120 g/km.

This is a bit of a shocker in a country where alternative means of travel are meagre. The calculation also seems to rely solely on the manufacturer’s figures for a given model.

But let’s be optimistic and assume that this extra government income will indeed somehow end up contributing to a cleaner atmosphere. I must wonder, however, if this tax is really enforced at the best place, i.e. at the level of the new vehicle showroom.

A car that belches CO2 like a flatulent bovine does methane, will also be heavy on fuel. It would seem so much simpler to increase the government levy on the price of fuel, instead of targeting new vehicle shoppers.


Sure, but people aren’t necessarily rational when making buying decisions - they may not take the heavy fuel consumption into account when first buying a vehicle. Levying a tax at the point of sale of new cars gives consumers an immediate incentive to prefer more fuel efficient models, and perhaps more importantly, provides such an incentive to manufacturers.

Obviously, one worries about whether it will be implemented properly…

in an ideal world, that would be super. but, one can be sure, that very little, if any, of that money will reach the destined locations. it will end up in some corrupt officials pocket, or on some of zuma’s wive’s travelling budget.
in a country where even the most basic finances are dubious, and money cannot be accounted for, its allmost a certainty that there are plenty of loopholes regarding this, and money will be siphoned off in the millions.
i have zero faith in our government. can you tell?

Yeah, that is a real worry. Luckily, the treasury is pretty damn competent - probably the single most efficient government department. While corruption is indeed endemic (argh!) it happens mostly via tenders, the parastatals and in the distribution of welfare. Serious problems indeed, but the majority of our tax money is spent properly.

I used to have quite a bit of confidence in government. I wish I could say that was still true. We have numerous MPs who belong in jail (Travelgate anyone?), Zuma most certainly belongs in jail and the tenderepeneurs are ascendant. Depressing.