Increase will affect poorest citizens
The government has revealed the way it will ‘compensate’ itself for reducing the cost of certain motorway tolls (see below).
It will increase annual IUC contributions (Impost Único de Circulação, or road fund tax), “for all cars over 16 years old”, irrespective of whether these cars use motorways.
In other words, the poorest drivers will be left to cover the shortfall of discounts given to those wealthy enough to use the country’s tolled motorways.
Many ‘poor drivers’ avoid using motorways as much as possible: now, they are to be saddled with a higher rate of road fund tax even so.
Says SIC Notícias, the owners of vehicles with licence plates pre-2007 will thus have to support the €72.4 million that it is costing to reduce toll charges on roads that were initially constructed to have no costs for users at all.
IUC charges were increased by 4% already this year. Next year, it will simply be more.
One aspect to bear in mind is that older cars currently pay the lowest rates of IUC. Even so, this decision will, SIC agrees, affect those on the lowest incomes.
Online ECO adds that it could even be argued that the increase is a form of social injustice.
The toll reductions – due to come into place in January – are expected to be in the region of 30%, applied to the Algarve’s A22, and the interior’s A23/ A24, the A25, the A4 and the Marão Tunnel, the A13 and A13-1. All these roads were constructed on the basis that traffic was to travel on them freely, and thus ‘development’ of regions requiring extra help would be powered.
These tolls (on roads formally known as SCUT, standing for SEM COBRANÇAS AOS UTILIZADORES – meaning without charges for road users) have always been labelled ‘illegal’, but successive governments have continued enforcing them regardless.