Help let businesses help with pt costs – greater auckland electricity production in the us

#

With petrol prices on the rise, it is once again raising suggestions that the government should cut fuel taxes to ease the burden on the public. The National Party in particular are pushing this line, although they don’t say how the government could then afford to pay for current transport plans. While I’m sure if asked they’d say the government should cut back on projects like light rail, now is exactly the time we need good quality alternatives, especially those not subjected to the fluctuations in the price of fuel.

However, I’ve been thinking about other ways the government could help with the issue of fuel prices. Perhaps one small thing they could do is to make it easier for employers to consider non-car based perks, such as subsidising public transport for employees.

I suspect many companies would at least be interested in the option of doing this but don’t after realising they’d not only need to pay the perk but also Fringe Benefit Tax on top of it. FBT is something they often don’t need to when offering carparks due to a loophole. The previous government did suggest closing the loophole but quickly backed down following opposition from both businesses and unions.

Taking it further, agencies like Auckland Transport could create special products to sell to businesses. This could consist of full travel passes, like monthly passes currently do, or alternatively, use the same functionalty used for child/student concessions. In that situation, the employee might get discounted PT with AT billing the company for the difference. Both options could help to encourage more people to use PT which fits perfectly with goals for both Auckalnd and the Government.

If the government were to take it a step further, they could also pick up and tie it in with an idea we posted last year. It would require employers who provide parking for staff to allow employees to have the value of that carpark cashed out.

If you look at the material released at the time it shows that expenditure would tail off once the RONS hump was cleared, assuming a government didn’t (a) build the 2nd harbour crossing; and (b) come up with a whole lot of other projects to do.

If it did do both (a) and (b) it could avoid road tax increases if it was prepared to use Crown funding to cover the hump rather than increases in road taxes. So in theory a government could hold off raising road tax rates which, not being indexed, would decline in real value over time.

Although our fuel taxes may be at the lower end, because they (and RUC) are hypothecated, which is highly unusual, NZ has one of the best funded road systems in the world. It seems disingenuous, though, to use Crown funds to top this up further, and take funding away from less privileged areas of the government budget, to avoid the public necessity of either increasing transport taxes or running a comb through the planned projects.

The Opposition’s position arguably carries on from their last few years in government. Rates were able to be held steady in 2016 and 2017. However, it is likely that this was because inflation was flat and Crown injections were used. There is some information in the NZTA regular reports etc that also suggest project delays, issues with local governments finding the local share needed to initiate projects on time, and savings meant funds could be redeployed to cover emerging priorities.