Babwah: Increased car sales no indication of robust economy

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 10:45

President of the T&T Automotive Dealers Association Visham Babwah says increased vehicle sales is not an indication of a robust economy but highlights the failures of public transportation.

He was responding to statements from Minister of Finance Colm Imbert that vehicle sales were averaging over 25,000 per year and the to­tal num­ber of ve­hi­cles registered in T&T was well over the one mil­lion mark.

"The Minister says that new vehicle purchases is a sign of economic activity but we don’t have records of cars which were stolen or written off. It may appear to be correct but you don't know how many of these million cars are over 20 years old and are off the road," he added.

Babwah also said other vehicles may be owned by rental companies.

"We need to find out how many vehicles are written off and how many of those are owned by rental companies. When he speaks like that it gives the impression that there are one million vehicles on the road at any one time and this is clearly not the case," Babwah said. He noted that the high rate of vehicle sales was an indication of the failures of the public transportation system.

He also expressed disappointment that the government was not embracing new vehicle technology. Rather than pump millions of dollars into installing CNG infrastructure, Babwah said more subsidies should have gone into hybrid vehicles.

"Many citizens have accepted hybrid and electronic vehicles. This is a transformation that I lobbied for since 2010.  The green technology will save the government money and I was hoping to hear more about this in the midyear review but I didn't," Babwah said. He noted that it was not feasible to spend millions to put down the infrastructure for CNG.

"The manufacturers have not gone that way for CNG vehicles. We have only a few models of vehicles that are CNG.  The majority of cars being outfitted for CNG are between seven to ten years old. When people no longer want to go CNG, the infrastructure will be useless so what is the point of putting down CNG stations all over," he contended.

"CNG has been around for more than 40 years and they never made any profit. Last year they gave away 3,000 CNG kits at cost of $12,000 per kit. That is $36 million. Isn’t that a burden to the citizens?"

- by Radhica De Silva