Wellington, Aug 12 NZPA - The freight sector is disappointed a review of the road user charges system has not resulted in it being scrapped.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced today the system would be maintained but simplified and purchases moved online.
An independent review group made 33 recommendations on the charges and the Government accepted 20 of them.
The review was commissioned following concerns about increases in road user charges in July last year.
The Government accepted recommendations that the road user charges system be retained, simplified and modernised rather than replaced with a diesel tax, Mr Joyce said.
A diesel tax would "impose costs on non-transport users".
The Road Transport Forum chief executive had wanted the system dumped, as it was a waste of money, and replaced with a simpler diesel tax, but would enter discussions with the Government with an open mind, its chief executive, Tony Friedlander, said.
"In particular we hope our discussions can address the sheer waste of money and high level of evasion caused by the present regime," Mr Friedlander said.
Mr Joyce said the Government rejected a higher annual flat licence fee rate because it was unfair to those who travelled short distances.
Light diesel users contribute the least to the roading system, the review found.
Over time, the charges would be purchased via an online system which would reduce compliance costs and evasion, Mr Joyce said.
The Government turned down a pay-as-you-go method, saying it would add complications and costs.
The charges rate will be reviewed annually in line with the recommendation, but that will not necessarily mean an annual increase.
Mr Friedlander said it was encouraging the minister had picked up on the point that light diesel vehicles and light trucks should be paying more towards roading costs and said that this relativity issue will be steadily addressed over time.
"One of the reasons why New Zealand road transport rates are significantly higher than those in Australia is because of the higher government charges imposed on trucking operators here.
"If New Zealand is to achieve the productivity gains the Government has set as an objective, it is essential that charging system for heavy trucks is fair and cost efficient," Mr Friedlander said.