Israel probably thought it was alone in the region with its plans to lift (and then stiff) taxes from hybrids and electric cars until now: Its northern neighbor Lebanon says it will likely do the same. In the 2010 draft budget, reports the Daily Star, the Lebanon government is factoring in exempting companies and individuals from paying import taxes on hybrid cars. This announcement could boost sales of hybrids and all-electric vehicles, such as Nissan’s LEAF to the Middle East region, especially in oil-less countries where citizens tend to have more modest dealings with environment issues and transport.
Finance Minister Raya Hafar Hassan and Environment Minister Mohammad Rahal made this joint announcement after a meeting on Friday, according to the Daily Star.
“Hybrid cars will be exempted from all import duties in an effort to encourage Lebanese own environmentally friendly vehicles,” Hassan told reporters at a press conference. “We discussed ways to cooperate between the Finance Ministry and the Environment Ministry in an attempt to control pollution,” Hassan added.
The World Bank has recently told Lebanon, the “Switzerland of the Middle East,” expecting a surge in tourism this summer, that environmental degradation will cost it $560 million annually. “What is more important is that an environment disaster will have a serious impact on the health of the citizens in the country,” the minister said.