HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – For the first time in six years, Bermuda's senior citizens will have to pay to license their cars.
Late Wednesday, the Senate approved legislation ending the fee exemption for seniors, despite multiple attempts by the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) to change the legislation.
PLP senator Marc Daniels tabled three potential amendments to the legislation, all of which were voted down by government and independent senators.
The Motor Car Amendment Act 2013, set to come into effect on April 1, will increase the cost of annual vehicle license fees by three per cent.
The exemption was introduced in 2007 by former Premier and Transport Minister Dr Ewart Brown, but the ruling One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) has said the policy was a mistake, costing the government US$3.5 million in lost revenue every year.
The exemption has been exploited with the number of the largest Class H - cars being registered to seniors rising by 358 per cent.
Officials say these cars have been used by younger family members.
Currently, license fees range from $281.05 for Class A cars, to $1,551.35 for Class H ones.
Government senator Michael Fahy said the decision to end the exemption was a difficult one, but difficult choices had to be made to get the island’s financial situation in order.
“We are just going to have to deal with that unfortunately,” he said. “That’s just the way it’s going to have to be for a while.”
The OBA inherited a national debt of $1.4 billion when it took over on December 18 after defeating the PLP in a general election by 19 seats to 17.