United Free Movement Says Convert to CNG in Trinidad and Tobago Now

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Political Leader of the United Free Movement (UFM), Attorney at Law, former Member of Parliament for Moruga/Tableland and Minister of Legal and Consumer Affairs (Nov 2007- May 2010) in the Trinidad and Tobago Government, Peter Taylor is urging the Minister of Finance and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to move expeditiously to commence the conversion of Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) Buses and Maxi-Taxis from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Political Leader of the United Free Movement (UFM), Attorney at Law, former Member of Parliament for Moruga/Tableland and Minister of Legal and Consumer Affairs (Nov 2007- May 2010) in the Trinidad and Tobago Government, Peter Taylor is urging the Minister of Finance and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to move expeditiously to commence the conversion of Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) Buses and Maxi-Taxis from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The call comes against the background of a statement made by Minister of Finance Larry Howai, that the 2012/2013 budget, which will be read in the Parliament on Monday October 1st, 2012, will be an austerity budget.

Trinidad and Tobago’s new political party is calling on the Government to turn to CNG as a means of cushioning the negative impact that increased fuel prices will have on the cost of living.

“Persons on the lower end of the economic spectrum will be most affected by any rise in fuel prices which will invariably create a price-led inflationary spiral,” noted Taylor, who holds a 2nd Class Honours Degree in Economics from the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad.

The slightest increase in fuel prices sees an immediate exponential increase in the prices of goods and services.

Lower income earners have an inelastic demand response to increases in the prices of food. Faced with rising prices and falling disposable incomes, the financially disadvantaged will spend a disproportionately larger percentage of their income on food, foregoing other necessities such as health care and their children’s education, experiencing a deterioration in their quality of life.

The UFM is calling on the government of Trinidad and Tobago to immediately release the necessary allocation to VMCOTT to enable the conversion of Buses and Maxi-Taxis from diesel to CNG and also to simultaneously construct park and ride facilities throughout the country. Some of the benefits are as follows:

Commuters will be spared agonizing hours in traffic jams to and from work;
The required allocation can be sourced from the 2 billion dollars available in the Green Fund;
CNG is a cleaner burning fuel with little or no harmful emissions;
This country is rich in natural gas which is significantly cheaper than both diesel and gas;
Reduced local consumption of gas and diesel can see the export of greater volumes of these fuels to overseas markets at internationally competitive prices;
The savings derived from the cheaper CNG can be passed on to the consumer;

In a November 2011 Business Guardian article, National Petroleum’s (NP) Chairman Neil Gosine proclaimed that a joint venture agreement between VMCOTT and NP was established to construct the first CNG station at VMCOTT Headquarters at Beetham Gardens. This was confirmed later when in a May 2012 interview VMCOTT’S Chairman Robert Charbonne stated that plans were indeed proceeding apace with the construction of the CNG station following the award of a contract to VMCOTT from the PTSC for the conversion of 400 Buses from diesel to CNG.

Also in an August 2012 Business Guardian interview Raymond Franco, Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs CNG Task Force Manager confirmed a note before the Cabinet for the formation of a billion-dollar new state enterprise charged with implementing the Government’s compressed natural gas (CNG) strategy of converting PTSC Buses and Maxi-Taxis, along with the construction of CNG stations.

The United Free Movement applauds the efforts of these two Chairmen thus far for the progress made in laying the foundation for the conversion of buses and maxi taxis from diesel to CNG, in the wider context of this initiative representing a potentially substantial savings in expenditure on transportation for the travelling public.

“I therefore call on the Honourable Minister of Finance, Larry Howai to release the allocations to VMCOTT before the end of the financial year 2011/2012 so as to ensure the fulfillment of contractual obligations by VMCOTT. This will constitute an economic lifeline to the travelling public of Trinidad and Tobago”. Added Taylor

Peter A.C. Taylor is a former Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament for the Constituency of Moruga/Tableland, and Minister of Legal and Consumer Affairs (November 2007-May 2010). He is also a practicing Attorney and Author of the book ‘Flirting with Destiny’ which was published in December 2010.

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Peter A. C. Taylor

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