Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mark Pettingill today [Mar 26] clarified the Motor Car Amendment Bill, 2013. He said seniors are not able to apply for an exemption due to financial hardship.
On 18 March 2013, the Motor Car Amendment Bill 2013 was debated in the House of Assembly. The Bill, as passed, provides for a 3% increase in the permit fees and licence duty as payable in the Schedules to the Motor Car Act 1951. The Motor Car Amendment Bill 2013 also provides that senior car owners will now have to pay 50% of the licence fees as provided in the Act.
Minister Pettingill said: “There has been much debate – in the House and by the public – concerning the change in licensing fees for vehicles, especially the exemption enjoyed by seniors since 2007.
“During the debate in the House, and as quoted in subsequent newspaper articles, I stated that seniors who cannot afford to pay can apply to the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport for an exemption under section 62B of the Motor Car Act 1951.”
The actual provision under which a senior can apply for an exemption is section 62A, which gives the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport the discretion to issue an exemption from paying licence fees on the grounds of physical disability or limitation.
Minister Pettingill explained: “Section 62B was in fact the section being amended in the House, reducing by 50% the concession available to qualifying seniors which clearly was taken to mean a “full exemption”, when in actuality all seniors will be required to pay 50% of licensing fees. To be clear, seniors can no longer apply for a full exemption from paying licence fees under section 62B and are not able to apply for an exemption due to financial hardship.”
The Minister said he understands that some seniors will be aggrieved by this change but added: “This Government was elected on the promise of putting Bermuda’s financial house in order. The exemption had been abused by too many for too long and has cost the Government millions of dollars in much needed revenue over the years.”