My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why the GOJ needs to support All-Electric Vehicle Importation and ditch their Toyota Jamaica SUV's

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why the GOJ needs to support All-Electric Vehicle Importation and ditch their Toyota Jamaica SUV's

“Many ministers, on assumption of office in January, were not assigned official Vehicles as many of them were sold to the outgoing ministers”

Minister of Information, Sandrea Falconer at the Jamaica House Press Briefing on Wednesday November 21st 2012

The GOJ (Government of Jamaica) has again stepped into a firestorm of controversy. This time it’s the announcement its purchase of sixteen (16) brand name SUV’s (Sports Utility Vehicles) from Toyota Jamaica for its Minister of Government as stated in the article “Gov't buys 16 new SUVs for ministers”, published Thursday, November 22, 2012, The Jamaica Observer .

The announcement was made at a Press Briefing held by Minister of Information Sandrea Falconer on Wednesday November 21st 2012. This was headline news to shock those who watched the news on Television Jamaica and CVM TV and to be ruminated on later at their leisure in The Jamaica Observer and The Jamaica Gleaner the following Thursday November 22nd 2012.

A Sunday Editorial or letter of commentary’s bound to follow to put pressure on the GOJ with regards to their faux paus in Vehicle choices!

Nothing unusual here though, if you go by The Jamaica Observer’s rather scant treatment of the issue. But it’s the Budgetary sticker shocker that has tongues in New Kingston wagging: approximately US$694,000 or JA$ 63,068,552.18 million was spent on procuring what’s now being reported as a total of twenty (20) SUV’s.

This as reported in a more statistics laden manner in the article “Gov't shells out $60m for Ministers' New Vehicles - Big bucks, big cars”, published Thursday November 22, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The Jamaica Observer’s article’s scant treatment of the affair is similar to the article on the coming of budget Vehicle retailer Metis Motors Jamaica Ltd to sell the Tata Nano 2nd Generation Car as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Metis Motors intro’s 2nd Generation Tata Nano to Ja signaling Black and Yellow for All-Electric Vehicles”.

The Jamaica Observer’s treatment of the story may also possibly be due to the fact that Toyota Jamaica is a competitor to Gordon “Butch” Stewart’s ATL (Automotive Trader Limited) Motors and they’re not into giving the competition free advertising!

Disclaimer:  Gordon Stewart, who owns The Jamaica Observer, is Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and Adam Stewart is  CEO of ATL Automotive and Sandals Resorts International as per their OWN newspaper’s article in an article entitled “'Butch' Stewart names 25 year-old son CEO of Sandals Resorts”, published Sunday, November 12, 2006 by Desmond Allen, The Jamaica Observer.

The GOJ's Vehicle Allowance is US$35,000 per Vehicle. This represents an 18.6% increase on the GOJ's Vehicle Allowance US$29,500 following a Cabinet decision in August 2011 under the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party).

For the record, Ministers driving their own Vehicles are not given a Fuel Allowance. A rather cruel reality, as most Private Sector companies give Fuel and upkeep allowance for workers in Senior and Middle Managerial positions that choose to drive their own ride.

I don’t….sorry! Not a big fan of SUV or even the Otto cycle Combustion Engine and the inefficiency they represent!

Thus the new Vehicles are justified as the Ministers were incurring Vehicle upkeep and fuel expenses on their personal Vehicles, which new Vehicles to do their jobs would alleviate. In that regard, I fail to see the reason for the Public furor over the COST Vehicles, as this is the typical price for Vehicles for Senior Managers and Corporates Executives in most Private Sector Companies.

To wit, here are the stats gleaned from The Jamaica Gleaner (no pun intended!) report on Minister of Information, Sandrea Falconer Press Briefing on Wednesday November 21st 2012 in point form:

1.      20 Vehicles in total were purchased costing US$694,000.
2.      30 SUVs valued at J$28.9 million were sold to JLP Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.
3.      Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Agriculture Ministry purchased one of these Vehicle being sold by the GOJ, 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser for J$499,700
4.      US$32,327.96 is the cost of the 2012 Audi, lowest priced Vehicle purchased by Minister of Finance Dr. Peter Phillips

This strange journalistic foible aside, why does it catch the eye of my blog? Simply because the GOJ dropped the ball here as it relates to setting an example in Vehicle purchasing!

For me the issue is not the COST of the Vehicles. It’s the fact they chose to purchase SUV’s, which are typically fuel-inefficient gas-guzzling Vehicles in a country where the price of Motor Vehicle fuel is going up every 2 weeks.

I’d have had less complaint if the GOJ had been a little more progressive and spent the money on All-Electric or Flex-Fuel Vehicles.  The 2013 Nissan Leaf, now in its Second Generation production coincidentally published on Wednesday November 21st 2012 as stated in the article “Nissan lowers electric car price”, published Wednesday, November 21, 2012, The Jamaica Observer would be a good place to start.

The follow-up article “Nissan upgrades Leaf electric car, lowers price”, published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 6:41 PM, The Jamaica Observer deserves more attention than it’s being given! I’ll be sure to do an article on the 2013 Nissan Leaf soon…..

Or even Vehicles that run on Auto LPG as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel” or Bio-Fuel in a bid to promote the fledgling Bio-fuel Industry, which falls directly under Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell’s portfolio.

At least with All-Electric Vehicles they'd set a trend for the rest of Jamaica’s elite to follow. That'd result in the trend catching on with the “keeping up with the Jonses” type folks in the middle Classes. The DJ's and Entertainers would follow and before you know it Media Personalizes and then ordinary Jamaicans would be toting All-Electric and Flex-Fuel Vehicles as predicted in my blog article entitledATL Automotive to benefit from Low-Sulphur Diesel in 12 Months Time - Bio-Fuels Resident Evil Apocalypse”.

This is how trends start; GOJ does it and the populi follow en masse, as was the case in the 90's with then Prime Minister PJ Patterson and his Mitsubishi Pajero.....and our love for SUV's thereafter Avalanched…..this time pun VERY much intended!

If the GOJ sets an example for responsible stewardship of the Environment by being environmentally conscious in their choice of Vehicles, they'd help to reduce Jamaica's Oil Bill and still be driving the latest most expensive Vehicles, Technology-wise. In the process, they'd give a boost to the adoption of All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica as stated in the article Is Jamaica ready for Electric Vehicles ?”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Much the same way Minister Phillip Paulwell having Solar Panels at his house is being patterned by many as a means of reducing their Electricity Bill as noted in my blog article entitledPhillip Paulwell makes Net Billing official with 11 licenses issued - JPS Co invited via Mavado's Come Round a Mi Yard”.

Not grandiose musing about All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica! It's inevitable!

Jamaica’s Vehicles are Japanese throwaways, plain and simple. Eventually in the next 5 years they’ll be throwaways we'll have to adapt to, as Gas-powered Vehicles are going the way of the Dodo by 2015 as predicted in my blog article entitledAlternative Energy and Volvo - Tomorrow Never Dies for the Hydrogen-Electron Economy”.

The transition to All-Electric Vehicles in Japan means that the spare parts shortage reported back in October 2010 in the article Spare Parts shortage hits used-car Trade”, published Friday October 22 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner is set to become more acute.

Thus, despite the words of Kent LaCroix, President of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) as stated in the article “Is Jamaica ready for Electric Vehicles ?”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer, All-Electric Vehicles are coming to Jamaica by 2015, whether we want them or not. Soon they’ll be the only Vehicles left to import as Japan’s going All-Electric by 2015 as explained in my blog article entitled “All-Electric Vehicles and Jamaica – Downfall”.

The GOJ therefore needs to change its Vehicle Importation policy to give subsidies or remove all Import Duties to new Vehicles that are either All-Electric or Flex-Fuel as argued in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Diesel Sulphur Content - Casino Royale” and “Alternative Energy and Range Extender Technology - Jamaica to Rhaatid”. In much the same way PJ Paterson began the trend of SUV's with his Pajero, the GOJ can begin the trend towards environmental consciousness via driving All-Electric or Flex-Fuel Vehicles.

In committing to All-Electric Vehicles, the GOJ would also renew it commitment to repair all of Jamaica’s Road and Bridge Infrastructure. A move with a benefit to not only Jamaicans but international Investors seeking to come to Jamaica but unable to find space to set up shop due to our poor Road Infrastructure as stated in the article “1,000 jobs on the line”, published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer, which makes islandwide travel difficult.

After all, Minister Paulwell's planning Tablets for Parliamentarians, GovNET, their closed Linux Server-based WAN (Wide Area Network)  and eventually Supreme Court Judges Lawyers as opined in as noted in my blog article entitled “GOJ Parliamentarians upgraded to Microsoft Surface Tablets and GovNET Wide Area Network - Minister Paulwell efforts to reduce paper may accelerate Jamaican Tablet Adoption”.

A move that Minister Paulwell plans to replicate in Primary to High Schools in a partnership with the Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites to introduce Mobile Computing, which is already being tested on UWI (University of the West Indies) Med Sci Students as Guinea Pigs as stated in my blog article entitled “UWI Medical Sciences Students get deal on JL Mobile SmartTab Tablets and cheaper ebook versions of Textbooks - From Gross Anatomy to Islandwide Push towards Tablet Adoption

After all aren't Tablets a First world, yet paper-saving trend??? Why not the same GOJ-led trend with Vehicles??? All-Electric and Flex-Fuel Vehicle Support is needed from GOJ to be The Master (2012) of our Fuel Consumption.

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