THE Department of Trade and Industry gave assurances that the government is looking at schemes to make the Public Utility Vehicle modernization program “lighter” for jeepney operators.
Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government is studying how to lessen the program’s impact on affected operators.
The government’s PUV modernization program aims to make vehicles more environment-friendly. It also seeks to provide a monthly fixed salary to drivers to do away with the boundary system.
“When it comes to financing, we won’t do it without the support to the sector. Right now the jeepneys are probably owned by the operators or by the riders themselves. Obviously there will be financial assistance because we know their limitations, otherwise the program will not work,” Lopez said in a news conference for the 1st Philippine Auto Parts Expo (PhilAPEX) held at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.
“The program that we are going to do will make them better off. We will not propose a financing scheme that will make them worse off. It will make their lives better,” he added.
Lopez said there are a lot of government financial institutions that can help operators.
“This is a work in progress. There will be schemes that will make the transformation lighter, to make it work, and to make it more acceptable. At the end of the day it will be the drivers themselves and the riding public who will enjoy the benefit,” the DTI chief said.
He said to reduce the burden on operators, the government is looking at providing loans with longer payment terms and lower interest.
“There could also be schemes which are cooperative type. There are a lot of schemes that we are looking at. What is sure is that we will implement a scheme which they can afford,” Lopez said.
During the expo, 16 eco-PUV prototypes produced by local assemblers and body builders were exhibited. Lopez said the government is still in the process of finalizing the designs for the new PUV.
“The design will be leaning towards a more safe vehicle. It will be a lot bigger. This will be a different design from the typical jeepney because this time it is already safer. The design will also be PWD-friendly,” Lopez said.