ComfortDelgro – BT

ComfortDelGro to push out taxi rebates early

It expects savings to total $4.6m or $306 per taxi per year

TAXI companies have decided to pass the Budget road tax rebates on to drivers – and one operator even plans do it four months early.

ComfortDelGro, the dominant player with about two-thirds of Singapore’s 24,000 taxis, yesterday said that it will pass the savings on to drivers from March – instead of July.

It also said that it will spread the cash rebates over a shorter period of six months.

One of the Budget measures announced on Jan 22 was a 30 per cent road tax rebate for taxis for one year from July 1, 2009. The move will save cab companies $7 million.

In addition, operators will be granted a waiver of the special tax on diesel-powered taxis that are not hired out between March 1, 2009 and Feb 28, 2010. The annual special tax for taxis is a flat $5,100 and is paid on top of road tax.

ComfortDelGro expects the savings from the rebates, which it will receive from the government over a 12-month period from July, to total about $4.6 million, or $306 per taxi per year.

But instead of giving drivers $25.50 a month over 12 months from July, ComfortDelGro will give them $51 a month cash over six months from March, to provide ‘faster relief during these difficult times’.

This is the second year that the company has passed all road tax savings on to its drivers. Last year, it passed $2.7 million of rebates on to them.

SMRT, the second-biggest player here, also said yesterday that it will pass the latest rebates on to its drivers in full. ‘We have yet to determine how this can be done. Details will be announced later,’ a spokeswoman said.

Unlike ComfortDelGro, SMRT’s taxi division has not been profitable for some time. In the third quarter ended Dec 31, 2008, it suffered an operating loss of $226,000 due to a lower average hired-out fleet.

At Premier Taxis, similar sentiments were echoed regarding the rebates. ‘Definitely, we will return them to drivers but we haven’t decided when and how to do it,’ said managing director Lim Chong Boo.

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