By Omar Obeidat

AMMAN –– The government will not delay the implementation of its recent decision to cancel part of the tax exemption on hybrid vehicles, Finance Minister Mohammad Abu Hammour said Tuesday.

Car dealers had been pushing for postponing the imposition of a 55 per cent special tax on green cars to May 30 instead of April 30.

Abu Hammour told The Jordan Times that the government’s decision, which was issued in early March based upon a study conducted by the Jordan Customs Department, gave traders “more than enough” time to bring into the country the cars they had bought before the decision was taken.

“The decision was clear that any hybrid cars that were purchased before March 7 and entered the country before April 30 would be excluded from the decision,” he explained, adding however that the government may make some exceptions in certain cases.

Those who can provide documents, such as banking transactions, proving they paid for their imports of green cars before March 7 can be exempted from the tax, he elaborated.

Nabil Rumman, president of the Jordan Free Zone Investors Association, told The Jordan Times on Monday that a total of 1,500 hybrid cars, worth JD20 million, are still on their way to the country and will be affected by the decision.

He said investors had contacted the government regarding this issue and were expecting a response yesterday.

Rumman said that if the government refused to postpone the implementation of the decision for one month, traders would suffer large financial losses, explaining that these cars cannot be exported to other neighbouring markets as Jordan is the only country in the region that imports environment-friendly vehicles.

He elaborated that dealers will not be able to sell these cars in the local market as people will not be willing to purchase expensive hybrids, warning that some dealers may go bankrupt.

In his previous remarks to The Jordan Times, Rumman criticised the government’s decision, which he said was taken “without studying the consequences on local traders”, adding that the decision deprived people with limited incomes of the opportunity to buy affordable green cars.

Fees on hybrid cars, which use both gasoline and electricity, used to range between JD1,000 and JD4,000 depending on the size of the engine. According to Rumman, over 9,000 hybrid cars have been imported to the local market since the government decided to exempt them from customs fees in September 2008.