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FLASHBACK, 2020: Attendant Janniel Francis pumps gas for a customer at the NP Gas Station at Park and Edward Streets, Port-of-Spain.

GEISHA KOWLESSAR-ALONZO

A disaster.

This is what T&T Automotive Dealers’ Association (TTADA) president Visham Babwah is predicting if Government decides to phase out the use of Super gasoline as a fuel in T&T and only allows the use of Premium gasoline.

In an interview with Guardian Media’s Lead Editor Business Curtis Williams, Energy Minister Franklin Khan admitted that the matter has gone to the Cabinet but said no final decision has been taken.

Stakeholders say if the Government decides on phasing out Super gasoline it is likely to have a significant impact on motorists, the vast majority of whom use Super because it is less expensive than premium. It could also potentially have the knock-on effect of higher taxi fares and cause inflationary pressure.

Babwah, however, is calling for consultation with the relevant stakeholders on the matter, saying such a decision cannot involve Government alone.

Calling on Khan to provide reasons for the proposal to remove Super gasoline, Babwah said, “This is why we have a democracy to engage the views of everyone because this is a critical matter. What are the statistics saying for the removal of Super fuel? Is it that the fuel is substandard, because as it is, a significant amount of motorists use Super? If they should stop importation of Super, then people will have no choice but to use Premium.”

Babwah said with the current cost of Premium gasoline being $5.75 per litre, this will have negative repercussions for the motoring and travelling public. Furthermore, he said the price to import new and used cars will increase should this measure be implemented.

“Once people have to pay more for fuel this will have a devastating effect across the economy. All citizens will definitely feel the impact, lower and middle-income citizens especially,” he said.

Coupled with this, Babwah said the country’s foreign exchange situation has gotten worse since the shutting down of the Petrotrin refinery.

“If it is costing the country more US dollars now to import fuel, then the only reason I could see for the Government wanting to phase out Super fuel is that they will profit more from Premium fuel,” Babwah said.

He added that Government’s CNG initiative is also unsustainable, as it will eventually become obsolete.

Guardian Medial Ltd also reached out to Petroleum Dealers’ Association president Robin Narinesingh but he said it was too early to speculate on the possible outcomes of the matter. However, he said he intended to meet with his team to discuss the issue, which he noted was an important one.