Antonio Alvarez Desanti at a press conference Tuesday from his campaign office in Los Yoses. Photo Melissa Fernández / La Nacion

As the 2018 presidential election campaigns start to roll out, one of the candidates proposes to prohibit the import of fossil fuel powered vehicles starting in 2015.

Antonio Alvarez Desanti, presidential candidate for the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), said on Tuesday that the first 100,000 electric vehicles entering the country, that today sell for around US$70,000 dollars (¢40 million colones) should have tax incentives.

The politician, during a press conference at his campaign office in Los Yoses, added that his government would work on the construction of an electric commuter train, with the idea that public transportation uses clean energy.

Desanti stressed that with his proposals, he believes Costa Rica could be a fossil fuel-free country starting in 2040.

Currently, there are some 1.4 million vehicles on the roads in the country, with less than one-half percent (0.04%) non-fossil fuel powered.

The Legislative Assembly is currently discussing a bill proposed by the legislator for the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC), Marcela Guerrero, to eliminate the tax on electric vehicle imports for five years and encourage the construction of electric car charging stations, “electrolineras” in Spanish.

However, the tax on fossil fuel is a benefit to government coffers, generating more than ¢420 billion colones in revenue annually.

Asked how the government would make up the shortfall if it stopped importing fossil-fueled vehicles, Alvarez said taxpayers would have to bear the burden of the shortfall.

The want to president explained that the tax incentive for electric cars is for a defined period or amount, but it would not be forever, due to the need for a fiscal balance.

According to date from the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda), tax revenue related to the purchase and use of vehicles accounts for one-fifth (20%) of the country’s tax revenue.

Asked on the role of Recope, the state oil refinery that exclusively imports and distributes all gasoline products in the country, the presidential hopeful emphasized it would no longer be needed, without advancing a closing date.

Alvarez acknowledges that the idea is from former President Jose Maria Figueres, who ran against Alvarez for the party nomination.