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Gasoline subsidy cost $2.8 bill in 2010
Taxpayers are subsidising the average maxi taxi to the tune of $59,000 annually by keeping diesel fuel at a low price, according to Raymond Franco a member of the government appointed Compressed Natural Gas Task Force. The revelation was made during a presentation at yesterday’s National Energy Consultation at the National Academy for the Performing Arts. Franco said maxi taxis alone accounted for an annual subsidy of close to a $250 million. He said the subsidy for diesel was $1.3 billion last fiscal year while the overall fuel subsidy was $2.8 billion. Mr Franco said that was one of the reasons that government was offering an alternative fuel in the form of CNG.
While Mr Franco was unwilling to say whether the government would raise fuel prices once an alternative fuel was available, chairman of the CNG Task Force, Frank Look-Kin said it will certainly give the government options. Mr Look Kin said an increase in transportation costs will also increase the cost of goods. He said government was mindful about the increased costs but all of the benefits including the opportunity for consumers to buy cheaper fuel must be taken into account. Franco also told the conference that the CNG task force was seeking to have all of PTSC’s fleet of buses, all government and state-owned vehicles, maxi taxis and those people doing long distances converted to CNG.
He said since its introduction on a commercial basis in 1991, CNG use peaked in T&T and has been on its way down. Mr Look Kin also revealed that there are plans to build service stations along the two major highways. The consultation looked at making T&T a green economy and how the energy sector will respond to his challenge. Also speaking at the consultation was the Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Carolyn Seepersad Bachan who also spoke of the incentives government has offered people wanting to convert to CNG. She also raised the issue of renewables and announced the Government of T&T has partnered with the US Department of Energy in the creation of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Centre, which will be headquartered here in T&T. She added; “The agreement will be signed very soon.”
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