My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Alternative Energy and Jamaican Policies on Vehicle Importation - Gattaca

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Alternative Energy and Jamaican Policies on Vehicle Importation - Gattaca

We cannot safely leave politics to politicians, or political economy to college professors

Henry George, Social Problems

Merry Christmas to all on this Saturday December 25th 2010. I must admit my writing focus has been mostly on technology of late and thus I have not spared a thought for the going-on in my own country, leaving many of my Jamaica blogger colleagues and fan mail viewers to point out me, rather slyly, if I really rather live in the US of A as opposed to Jamaica.

To such readers, the answer is an emphatic no: not fond of battling it out with the cold weather, as despite never having seen or experienced snow, I express none such desire; my horizontal refrigerator being example enough! Worse, the weather here is abnormally cold and unfortunately, the mosquitoes do not seem to be letting up either, thus I clank on my handy PC between slaps on my legs and wrists – and puffs on my chocolate pipe, musing as I do.

Indeed, I have been keeping an eye on Local News, particularly in Parliament, which has gotten exciting again, thanks to an argumentative joust by Prime Minister Bruce Golding in his rousing of his political opponents in the PNP (Peoples National Party) by asserting that Jamaica needs to have its own Appellate Court as opposed to joining the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) as per the article “It's time to move forward with the CCJ”, published Friday, December 24, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Clever forte, as by argueing that Jamaica need such an expensive legal organ, Prime Minister Bruce Golding is in effect leaving the PNP no room to oppose the CCJ, which Jamaica already contributes to (like duh-uh!!! Green Papers, people!!), but has been unable to ratify and join, mainly due to past divisions on the issue in Parliament.

Via this clever argument, it gives the PNP room to “agree” on what is effectively a bi-partisan issue without losing face in front of their political supporters, already viewing the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) and its strict taxation policies as being hugely unpopular. Most certainly sets the tone for more exciting political pitched battles both within Parliament and among the populi.

Thus, do not be surprised at some later juncture in the sitting of Parliament in 2011 that the issue is put to vote in the Lower House (House of Representative) and then the Upper House (Senate) and is thus duly passed with the required two-thirds majority, now that the PNP is full behind the CCJ.

Just in time too, as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Jamaica is coming under heavy criticism of not fully ratifying into law the CCJ as their Final Appellate, despite their monetary support as stated in the article “Jamaica, Trinidad criticized over CCJ”, published Sunday, October 17, 2010, CMC, The Jamaica Observer.

Recent criticism of the Caribbean as a whole in not agreeing to the CCJ has not been very pleasant either as stated in the article “Time to sign on to CCJ, former St. Lucia PM tells region”, published Saturday December 4, 2010, CMC, The Jamaica Observer as well as stated in the article “Judge blames colonization's effects for failure to accept CCJ”, published Monday, December 06, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

I do not know where Mr. David Coore, one of the original signatories to the Jamaican Constitution and long time advocate for the CCJ is right now, but wherever he is, his smile must be devilish, grinning from ear to ear as this issue is getting a full press court as per the Observer Editorial entitled “Observer Editorial: It's full time now for the Caribbean Court of Justice”, published Tuesday, 7th  December 2010 05:12, The Jamaica Observer.

That said, there is also another issue which needs to be tackled with equal argumentative earnestness and it relates to the High Importation Duties imposed by the Government of Jamaica on New and Used Car Dealers. This in addition to improving the quality of Diesel Fuel in Jamaica by lowering the Sulphur concentration from 5000ppm to 10 to 15ppm as Senator Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry and Commerce appears to be suggesting as per the article “Government moving to improve motor Fuel quality - Samuda”, published Sunday, November 28, 2010, by MARK CUMMINGS, The Jamaica Observer.

My blog is all about offering solutions, so here I dive in. An all-inclusive solution would be to encourage the development of the Bio-Fuel industry, specifically as it relates to making Anhydrous Ethanol, Bio-Diesel and synthetic version of Gasoline, thus engaging the Private Sector in the Investment and Development of a vibrant, Local Bio-Fuel Sector and solving the High Sulphur content problem all at once.

The Government of Jamaica, however, must also lower the Import Duties on all Motor Vehicles less than four (4) years old as a means of jump-starting the New Vehicle Industry, possibly giving Duty Waivers for All-Electric Vehicles and Flex-Fuel Vehicles as a counterweight to the Government of Jamaica upgrading the PetroJam Refinery (which they no longer own!) and opening up the Bio-Fuel Market as stated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Diesel Sulphur Content - Casino Royale”.

This last additional argument about reducing the Duty on the Importation of New Vehicles, SPECIFICALLY with All-Electric Vehicles and Flex-Fuel Vehicles being duty free, attracting a full waiver, would help to ease the disparity in prices noticed by the Jamaican consumer between us and our American Neighbours. This is as the disparity between the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of a new imported Japanese vehicle versus its price here in Jamaica cannot be explained.

This is save to say that it is the onerously High Import Duties being charged on Motor Vehicle Importation, for which there is no logical explanation, except that it is the Government of Jamaica “milking” the Auto Industry as a means of getting at people with “unexplained disposable income”(my take on the issue!) as suggested by the President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton in the article “Jamaicans pay twice as much as US customers for cars”, published Friday, December 24, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

The President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton (what a long title, man!!) words speak clearly enough, quote:  “The [Jamaican] Government has one of the highest duty structure in our region as it relates to motor vehicles”. 

His words echoed prior by ATL and Stewart Auto Sales Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart, who spoke saying, quote “Clean fuel is the beginning (to protect the environment), getting access to the latest technology is (also) the beginning, but without bringing the duties down so that people in Jamaica can afford these cars under an environmental initiative, the problem will get worse”.

A plug for the environment for the Auto Industry is positive enough a spin for advertising these very same All-Electric Vehicles and Flex-fuel Vehicles to Jamaicans wary of their performance on Jamaican roads.

This is progressive talk that the Jamaican motorists would like to hear from our Local Auto Industry, as opposed to the one-sided protectionists arguments of Kent LaCroix, President of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) on behalf of the Used Car Industry in his opposition to All-Electric Vehicles as per the article “Is Jamaica ready for Electric vehicles ?”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer as the Used Car Industry is, well, a bit overused, clogging our roads with vehicles that are not roadworthy.

Throw in the fact that the Used Vehicle Industry is experiencing a chronic shortage of spare parts, with these old vehicles soon to become obsolete once the first wave of used Japanese All-Electric Vehicles hits us by 2012, 2014 thereabouts as per my blog articles entitled “Alternative Energy and Range Extender Technology - Jamaica to Rhaatid” and “All-Electric Vehicles and Jamaica - Downfall” and it gets a bit more serious.

Even better would be a means by which motorists could trade up their Used Vehicles as a further lowering of prices on the purchase of a new All-Electric or Flex-Fuel Vehicle as per my blog entitled “Alternative Energy and Biofuels - LNG is the Beginning”.

Jamaica would be caught unprepared, left behind by the rest of the world driving their All-Electric Vehicles and Flex-Fuel Vehicles with our local Power Utility Company (PUC)  Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd (JPS Co.) unable to cope with All-Electric Vehicle that cannot be charged without frequently tripping the Power Utility’s Grid as suggested in the article “Utilities thrilled and worried about electric cars”, published November Tuesday 23 2010, The Jamaica Observer and Diesel and Gasoline with such internationally unacceptable levels of Sulphur of 5000 ppm for Flex-Fuel Vehicles.

Not to mention the lack of Electric charging Station in the first place! There is also no wide scale adoption of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) Vehicle conversions and Filling Stations or other support Infrastructure.

Thus a Government of Jamaica Plan of Action on these dual issues is clear, multi-pronged and should easily be seen as bi-partisan. It must involve all of the above, done quickly over a single year to ensure Jamaica’s Transition to a Caribbean Final Court of Appeal as well as the survival of the Local Auto Industry.

Thus saving the Jamaican Taxpayer billions of dollars on Imported Fuel by rapidly changing out motor vehicles for All-Electric Vehicles and Flex Fuel Vehicles as the Americans are currently engaged in doing as per the article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “Chinese Crisis in Rare Earth Metals: Afghanistan is Silicon Valley's Savior” as well as in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and All-Electric Cars - WarGames”.

All before the year 2015 AD, when Peak Oil is set to occur as per my my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and the Caribbean - Peak Oil in 2015 and the Day After Tomorrow”.

Plus, as these All-Electric and Flex-Fuel rides are quieter, such as the 2011 Nissan Leaf, now on the market as per my article entitled “Nissan's Leaf hitting the road”, published December 3, 2010 5:54 AM PST by Reuters, CNET News - Green Tech The Young and the Restless (TV Series 1973– ) [working professional people] if the price I right, would not only be the first purchasers of such vehicles.

But as it catches on in Jamaica, especially if a trade-in of your old vehicle option is available, Jamaicans will wonder to themselves: Why was I every driving such a noisy vehicle, Gattaca (1997) Style?! 

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