Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 28th 2013 Contents A5
Friday, June 28, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Some 17,500 vehicles are to be converted to com-
pressed natural gas (CNG) as the Government launches
a plan to make it more widely used.
Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ram-
narine announced at yesterday s post-Cabinet press
conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair,
that Cabinet had approved $500 million to put the plan
He said: "Cabinet today approved a proposal by the
National Gas Company (NGC) for an investment of
$500 million for phase one of a five-year plan for the
accelerated development of CNG as a major vehicular
fuel in T&T."
Ramnarine said the financing to convert 17,500 vehicles
would come from the NGC and would come at no cost
to companies, state agencies or private citizens who
wished to convert their vehicles.
A subsidiary company of the NGC, he said, would
be created "to implement and drive the programme."
For those wishing to convert, the cost of CNG also
would be reduced from $1.07 a litre to $1 a litre, he
Ramnarine said the conversion to CNG had been
something many governments have spoken about as
an alternative to gasoline and diesel but "for different
reasons that has not gone through."
He added over the years tax incentives and other
incentives had been given for the uptake of the CNG
option but its use had not grown.
Ramnarine said only approximately one per cent of
vehicles in T&T used CNG.
The conversion, he said, would include maxi-taxis,
government vehicles, buses and high-mileage vehicles,
with the emphasis being on government vehicles.
Asked to define "high-mileage," Ramnarine identified
vehicles such as those used on the San Fernando to
Port-of-Spain route and vice versa.
He said the second pillar of the conversion would be
the construction of 22 CNG stations and would include
stand-alone CNG stations and the installation of CNG
in stations run by Unipet or National Petroleum (NP).
He added that the proposal addressed the demand
through the conversion and also the supply. He said
one of the concerns was the availability of stations to
fill the tank.
Ramnarine highlighted as benefits to the Government
the potential savings in the subsidy on liquid fuels
which, he said, was $4.4 billion last year.
"If you were able to reduce that subsidy, more money
would be available for things like schools, recreation
grounds, health facilities and so on," he added.
Other benefits of converting to CNG, he said, would
include greater foreign earnings, since the liquid fuels
normally used by drivers could be exported and the
reduction of the country s carbon footprint since, he
said, CNG was a "green fuel."
During last year s budget presentation, Minister of
Finance and the Economy Larry Howai also announced
the Government s intent to switch to CNG and a plan
to invest $1.5 billion to convert gasoline vehicles to CNG.
Howai said the Government s business plan and oper-
ational model targeted approximately 90,000 vehicles,
which included diesel, maxi-taxis, gasoline vehicles and
high-mileage vehicles. He also announced that 100
CNG buses would be added to the existing fleet and
a further 300 converted from diesel to CNG.
Some taxi drivers expressed interest in the conversion
Akil Phillip, a driver on the Port-of-Spain to San
Fernando route, said he would consider switching "once
it really comes true I will not mind doing it."
However, driver Andy Mohammed said he did not
think he would use CNG again.
Mohammed, who said he used CNG for two years
and has "the whole setup at home," cited the length
of time it took to refill the CNG tank and the poor
maintenance of the CNG pumps as reasons not to use
"I had CNG in a Laurel car but the question we used
to get is filling up in gas stations with the long delay
in lines and so on. Sometimes the pump break down
and we have to go to gas. The maintenance of CNG in
gas stations is very poor," he said.
Told that 22 CNG stations are to be constructed,
Mohammed said that mattered little since the issue
Threats by some judges to quit
the bench because of existing
pensions is one of the reasons
why the Government is moving
to amend legislation to allow for
an increase in pension payments
to retired judges.
Attorney General Anand Ram-
logan indicated that during yes-
terday s post-Cabinet news con-
ference at the Office of the Prime
Minister, St Clair.
He said there had been "grave
concern over remuneration pack-
ages and the restrictions on pen-
sion and other issues."
He added because of those
concerns judges have been recon-
sidering their decision to continue
"We have lost some very good
judges because of that. Others
are threatening to leave," Ramlo-
The proposed increases were
all part of measures aimed at
improving the administration of
justice, he said.
According to the AG, no pre-
vious government had the will to
address the issue.
Noting that the existing pen-
sion to retired judges was very
small, Ramlogan said the bill
would seek "to provide for the
periodic revision of the pension
paid to retired judges of the
Supreme Court as well as a more
favourable computation of pen-
sions payable to retired judges."
He said pensions would be
accordingly adjusted upwards and
there would also be a re-calcu-
lation of the pension for judges
who retired more than ten years
He said the move also was
intended to strengthen the pillars
on which the judiciary stood and
greater demands were being made
on the judges, who were only
"It is time that one look after
the judges, post retirement," he
He said he wrote to the Law
Association about four months
ago on the need to look at the
issue of the ten-year prohibition
on retired judges being able to
resume private practice as the
time had come to review that
measure. Ramlogan said the asso-
ciation s response "is long over-
He said he received the Crim-
inal Rules of Procedure from Chief
Justice Ivor Archie on Wednesday.
They would govern criminal trials.
Justice Minister Christlyn
Moore, who also spoke at the
briefing yesterday, said Cabinet
had approved amendments to the
Legal Aid and Advice Act to allow
for the maximum salary to be
more than $30,000 as currently
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan
says if the audit being done by the
Finance Minister shows former chief
fire officer Carl Williams was culpable
action would be taken against him.
Responding to questions during yes-
terday s post-Cabinet news conference
at the office of the Prime Minister, St
Clair, Ramlogan said Williams have
"gone off the radar" since the matter
was made public knowledge.
The T&T Guardian published an
exclusive report on the payment of $6.8
million to a contractor to retrieve a
crashed firetruck. It ran off the Arima
Old Road to Blanchisseuse last Novem-
Ramlogan said: "If the audit findings
reveal that the former chief fire officer
behaved in an improper and unlawful
manner I most certainly will take
He said Williams "appears to have
disappeared and gone completely off
the radar. I see the media can t even
publish a picture of what this man looks
Ramlogan said the Government did
not spend the money. He said one
month before the note was taken to
Cabinet for the payment, the chief fire
officer had already contracted the serv-
ices of a company to retrieve the ten-
He said the chief fire officer presented
a bill with a covering letter certifying
that he found the bills and documents
submitted to be genuine, proper and
Ramlogan said that was sent to the
permanent secretary who then caused
it to be taken to Cabinet.
Ramlogan said the document came
to Cabinet "ex post facto, it comes at
a time when it was a fait accompli. The
chief fire officer at the time has to
answer all these questions that the Gov-
ernment is being faced with."
Ramlogan said based on the facts,
the Government had no alternative but
to pay the $6.8 million
On another matter, Ramlogan said
the chairman of the Integrity Com-
mission Ken Gordon had six questions
to answer following his meeting with
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley at
his home on May 15.
One of the questions Gordon must
answer was why did he seek legal advice
on the matter when there was effectively
no Integrity Commission, he added.
Ramlogan said Gordon must also tell
the nation why he was seeking advice
on the matter when he should have
been seeking advice on whether he had
any powers in his own right under the
Integrity in Public Life Act.
Gordon was the sole member of the
commission and a quorum is made up
of at least three members.
He said he doubted Gordon could
participate in any investigation of the
matter before the commission.
Move to up
$6.8M FIRETRUCK ISSUE:
Govt targets 17,500
vehicles in CNG plan
Phase one of five-year plan to cost $500m
BEST OF BOLLYWOOD
Bollywood dancers perform at the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition semifinals, which featured
East Indian dancing, at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on Wednesday night. PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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