Road use toll burdens trucking to Russia

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Despite government praise for the new VIGNETTE road use tax payment system introduced last week, Latvia’s cargo vehicle transport sector worries it could lose its competitiveness against Lithuania and Estonia in the trucking of goods to and from the vast Russian market.

According to Ziedonis Aparins, a trucking industry representative, the cost of buying the “eurovignettes” could disrupt the sector by bankrupting whole companies. Latvia’s transport firms are most concerned about Russia’s possible response and competition amongst the Baltic states’ trucking service providers.

“Lithuania waived their existing road tax upon introducing the eurovignettes. They set up mutual exemptions with Russia, so that each country’s truckers wouldn’t get hit with extra costs on either side. The Estonians have not brought the new tax into effect, so they don’t have to pay to go to Russia. Therefore we’ll be less competitive than our neighbors, our truckers will have extra costs to pay both at home and in Russia. Our neighbors won’t have to pay for Russia,” Aparins told Latvian Public Radio Tuesday.

The spokesman for the truckers promised more protests, reminding listeners that compliance with the vignettes is owing to the €120 euro fine set on non-payers.  

On his part, the Transport Ministry's Motor Traffic Department head Andris Lubāns praised the steady first showing of revenues from the VIGNETTE system and minimized some of the difficulties encountered during its launch

"We’ve been working this week on improving the system to make it completely convenient and user-friendly," said the ministry spokesman.

The eurovignette fees are intended to support the maintenance and development of Latvia’s primary motorways and to foster the use of more environmentally-friendly vehicles amongst trucking fleets.

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