JOHOR BARU - Singapore motorists driving into Johor will pay no more than RM50 (S$20), Malaysia's Transport Ministry has said.
The cap on the new Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) charge for Singapore-registered vehicles is to ensure that the levy does not have an adverse impact on tourist arrivals, Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told the New Straits Times on Thursday.
"The Economic Council will set an amount which is comfortable for Singaporeans. Singaporeans have been enjoying coming to Johor Baru to shop and buy groceries. We don't want the VEP charge to hinder them from coming to Malaysia," he said.
Malaysia hopes to decide on the VEP levy and implement it by the end of the year, said Datuk Abdul Aziz.
The announcement came after Malaysia's Sin Chew Daily reported on Tuesday that the levy was likely to be not less than RM50. Mr Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying that a fee around that figure would be reasonable as the Singapore dollar is stronger than the Malaysian ringgit.
Malaysia announced on July 16 that all non-Malaysian vehicles entering Johor would be charged an entry fee, just over two weeks after Singapore announced that it would raise foreign VEP fees from Aug 1.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said the decision came after a request from the state of Johor, which has two land entry points from Singapore, in Woodlands and Tuas. Datuk Seri Najib said a portion of the fees collected would be channelled to the Johor government.
The VEP was reportedly introduced due to the high volume of Singapore-registered vehicles travelling to and from Malaysia, the NST reported. The charge would be levied only on Singapore cars for now as Singaporeans had benefited from the facilities in Malaysia over the years, Mr Abdul Aziz told the NST.
Most drivers in Singapore, however, see the levy as a tit-for-tat move in response to the Republic's decision to raise vehicle entry fees for foreign cars from Aug 1. Singapore will increase the fees from $20 to $35 to curb the growing number of foreign-registered cars on its roads.
Singapore's decision had created an uproar, especially among Johor residents who drive to the Republic to work and among businesses that regularly send goods vehicles there.
Malaysia's move to charge the VEP fee also caused unhappiness among Singaporean motorists, some of whom said that they would cut back or consolidate their trips to avoid having to pay too much in entry charges.
Mr Abdul Aziz stressed in the NST report that any decision on the levy would not be made at the expense of the Visit Malaysia Year campaign.
This article was first published on July 26, 2014.
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