Time to stop that diesel subsidy
Of the consumer subsidies, none has been more abused than the diesel fuel subsidy. The current retail price of diesel is $1.50, as compared to $6.00- $7.00 in the Caribbean and beyond.
This abuse is visible in the carbon dioxide emissions emitted from poorly maintained diesel vehicles which vibrate like a compactor; and whose drivers have equated that it is cheaper to satisfy the increased consumption (miles per gallon) rather than maintain the vehicle in a good working condition.
Such badly working diesel vehicles are evident as one travels on the highways and by-ways, and experience the billowing of vertical and horizontal carbon emissions, emitted from vehicles.
The abuse of subsidized diesel is further demonstrated by drivers who refuse to turn off the engines of their vehicles, while refuelling or when making a purchase at a point of sale close to their vehicles. This is in contrast to the drivers of the past who made a conscious effort to switch off in the interest of fuel conservation when the subsidy was minimal.
When the government of the day decided to subsidise the retail cost of fuel i.e. gasoline and diesoline, it was never intended that the protraction of the subsidy would be forever. The subsidy was for a fixed period of time, to allow commuters and commercial transport the benefit of affordability.
The vehicle population is well over 400,000 and continues to grow. There are parking lots stockpiled with new and foreign used vehicles which seem to be beyond demand of prospective purchasers. The price of gasoline and diesoline is cheaper than a bottle of drinking water. The fuel subsidy is well over $4 billion, while we face a National Debt of $6-7 billion. The subsidy has served its purpose. It must be weaned from the coffers of the State.
Interim upward adjustments in the price of diesel fuel and gasoline, towards ultimate removal of the subsidy could create fuel conservation. The Ministry of Works and Transport must monitor any concurrent abuse of upward adjustment in the price of commuter transportation; and the Government must offer some level of protection for daily commuters using such transportation. In this regard the Government's intention to implement a viable public transportation system must be accelerated for the convenience of commuters.
A bulletin issued by The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 13 June 2012 disclosed that the exhaust fumes emitted through diesel operated vehicles are carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
It is imperative that fuel conservation be practised, that is, vehicle engines must be turned off whenever possible. In addition vehicle engines must be maintained at a standard, to ensure low levels of carbon emissions. It has been confirmed that cancer is a high risk disease. Your compliance will save your own life.