The worst is yet to come for Bangkok's traffic. Over the past few months, I have spent twice as much time as before stuck in traffic jams. Although I am not an expert, I believe this has something to do with the government's first-car scheme. The programme allows new car buyers to claim tax rebates of up to 100,000 baht per vehicle per person. Since its inception, more than one million new vehicles have been purchased, or about 30,000 new cars a day. By the end of this year, the number of the "first cars" is likely to exceed 1.2 million.
The project began on Sept 16 last year and was originally scheduled to end on Monday. Surveys found it has attracted two major groups of customers: medium and high-income earners who want to buy cars for their children or family members, and low-income earners who could not have otherwise afforded to pay so much for their first cars.
Those eligible for the first-car scheme must be Thais aged 21 and over who had never owned vehicles before Sept 16 last year, and wanted a car or pick-up truck with an engine of no more than 1.5 litres. The purchased vehicles must be locally assembled and priced at no more than 1 million baht. The participants would be repaid no more than 100,000 baht as tax rebates one year after the purchases. They must own their vehicles for at least five years.