Joseph backs out of electric vehicle study

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The backlash surrounding the purchase of a luxury electric vehicle to be utilised by the health and environment minister Molwyn Joseph, as part of a feasibility study, has led to the minister withdrawing his participation.
The government is gearing up for a transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to the more environmentally friendly electric vehicles as part of its commitments to international climate change mitigation efforts.
But the revelation of the vehicle’s purchase on OBSERVER Radio during the weekend drew quick condemnation from opposition politicians and social media users, and elicited a response from the Department of Environment.
Diann Black-Layne, Chief Environment Officer, in a release on Tuesday explained that the Tesla Model X vehicle was purchased with international donor funds and was part of a study to examine the technical and economic feasibility of different classes of electric vehicles. 
The opposition United Progressive Party on Tuesday branded the purchase as a sign of a heartless and uncaring government.
On Wednesday, Black-Layne announced that Joseph had backed out of the study.
“I think, first of all, he felt that it would bring on political pressure because, you know, whenever a minister gets a new vehicle, especially if it’s a luxury vehicle it draws political attention. He said this to me over and over again, he just called me this morning (Wednesday) and said listen, I know this is important but he has his agenda for his ministry, he doesn’t want to be distracted right now.”
Black-Layne in seeking to justify the $275,000 purchase stated that the intention was to test the different types of vehicles the government normally buys. The department has also purchased a more moderately priced electric van and car and has gone out to tender for two electric school buses.
Asked what will become of the Tesla vehicle, Black-Layne said that was still to be decided, but expressed hope that Joseph would change his mind.
Reports from the government indicate that the transportation sector is second to electricity generation in terms of emissions in Antigua and Barbuda.

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