Government pushes ahead with engine levy

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Emissions compliance scheme to cost $8.4 million over four years.

The Department of the Environment and Energy has outlined how it intends to raise revenue from outboard engine importers to help meet the more than $2 million per annum cost of running the upcoming emissions standards scheme.

As indicated previously, the department is planning to impose a levy on all imported engines which meet the proposed standards. It will be illegal to import or sell engines which do not meet the proposed standards.

Many of the outboard engines currently imported into Australia already meet the proposed standards. As of July next year, importers will be required to pay a levy on these engines as part of the government's cost recovery process for administering the scheme. According to the department, cost recovery is intended to increase “awareness of the real costs of government activity”.

In an online survey earlier this year on Marine Business, 70% of respondents were opposed to the imposition of a levy on outboard engines to pay for the scheme.

The details of the department's cost recovery process are included in a draft Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS) which is now open for public comment.

The draft CRIS outlines that regulating emissions standards will cost the government an estimated $2.9 million in the first year of operation then more than $1.8 million for each subsequent year, totalling $8.4 million over a four-year period.

It is proposed that the levy should be set at 0.5% of the import value of the engines, commencing on 1 July 2018. The first year that importers will be liable to pay the levy will be in 2019 for the 2018-2019 financial year.

A maximum value threshold of $40,000 per item is proposed so that any items valued at more than this figure will only be liable for a levy based on the $40,000 value, namely $200.

Similarly, if the total value of imports for a business is less than $28,000 per annum – a total levy amount of $140 – it will not be required to pay the levy.

The department is also proposing to charge a fee of $1,470 for applications for exemptions from the regulations in a range of circumstances including where engines are imported for re-export and not used in Australia, engines used for specialised rescue or emergency tasks, replacement engines where there is no suitable alternative, and for engines used in legitimate competition events. The department estimates there will be about 60 applications for exemptions in these categories in 2017/18, raising a total of $88,200 in revenue.

The fees and levies charged by the scheme will be reviewed after the first year of operation (ie. after July 2019) and then each subsequent year. Depending on how much revenue is raised and how much the scheme costs to administer, the department says it may need to adjust the fee and levies in order to “ensure that the revenue raised by the scheme equals the costs of administration”.

The public consultation period for the draft Cost Recovery Implementation Statement closes on 6 November 2017.

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