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New licences bring in 650 per cent profit

Dec 03 2011

The B.C. government has been quietly turning a 650 per cent profit each time it renews someone's driver's licence, the auditor general said in a report Friday.

John Doyle said it only costs $10 for the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to issue a driver's licence. But ICBC collects $75 for each new licence or renewal. All of the money goes to the government.

"While provincial policy allows government to charge fees in excess of actual cost, the $75 charged for a $10 cost in this example appears to represent a significant profit," Doyle said.

ICBC collected $36.5 million in driver's licence fees last year.

Doyle said the government rarely tells the public about the cost of the goods and services for which people pay fees, which means taxpayers are unable to hold the government accountable for charges.

"The fee-setting process must be effectively managed and transparent so that stakeholders understand how fees are calculated and can hold government to account for its fee-setting decisions," the report said.

Doyle recommended that the fee-setting process and the rationale for the fees charged "be transparent and readily available to the public."

The government brings in more than $4 billion a year by charging fees for goods and services.

But Doyle also found the government needs to do a better job of reviewing the fees and keeping them up to date.

He said nearly 30 per cent of the 2,332 fees tracked by the Treasury Board have not been revised in more than a decade.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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