Solving problems by increasing tax does not work

Robin Low
3 min readMay 21, 2021

Motorcycle COE is up again, and this time, it is $8701. I see a lot of motorcycles in Singapore, and even with the borders to Malaysia closed, most of the bikes are Malaysian.

What is COE doing to the overall motorcycle population in Singapore?

COE of motorcycles was $1 for the longest time, then $100… and eventually, $1,000.

Back in 2017, motorcycle COE reached a historic high of over $8,000. Sadly, the action taken by the government is to raise ARF (Tax) on motorcycles from 15% to 100%.

Did it solve the problem? As you can see from the graph above — not really. The COE fell a little, but not much. It just made many bikes more expensive. A $40,000 touring bike now cost $60,000.

Did that improve congestion? No.

I don’t understand why the quota of the motorcycle COE has to be reduced. Is it because that the people making the policy does not ride a bike, or they hate it when they get stuck in a traffic jam, and the only vehicles moving by them are motorcycles.

Motorcycles are an integral form of transport. They do not take up much space on the road and they are needed for delivery as they consume less petrol, and take up less space on the road and parking.

As a form of transport, as most people drive alone to work, motorcycles are much more efficient. But the downside is that the bikers have to endure the hot sun and rain. It has nothing to do with traffic jams which LTA should focus on.

In fact, a high COE price affects the cost of goods delivery and impacts the prices of products and services.

When the motorcyclist cannot afford to buy the bike with cash, he takes a loan and a much bigger amount of loan. This proportionally affects the Singaporeans who are doing delivery.

At many parking lots in Singapore, you see a lot of Malaysian bikes. In fact, in Boon Keng, Serangoon, Toa Payoh, I see only Malaysian bikes. (not even talking about Woodlands and Jurong area that are popular with Malaysians) These bikes don’t need to pay…

Robin Low

Author, Traveler, Innovator. Focuses on Social Impact and Innovation.