Daily Brief - Tuesday 11th April, 2017


Resistance Resisted

Public servants ignored Public Services Association (PSA) President Watson Duke’s call for a day of resistance, with barely a hundred marchers standing with him yesterday in a protest opposite the Eric Williams Financial Centre in Port-of-Spain. The Government also weighed in on Duke’s so-called day of resistance, saying the Public Service was in no way affected and that it was business as usual across the country. However, Duke said the success of the protest should not be judged by numbers alone as he claimed the PSA made its own checks and found that 30 percent of public servants stayed away from work. Checks by Newsday, with several Government departments, revealed normal staff turnout. The Ministry of Public Administration stated in a release that there were no significant reports of absenteeism. “Checks revealed no unusual absences or reports of disruption to the normal operations of the Public Service despite calls for a day of resistance,” the release indicated. Read more here

DOMA pens letter to BP

Head of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud has written to Norman Christie, regional president of BP, expressing regret over Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) president Ancel Roget's “take your rig and go” statement. Last Friday, Roget led a protest in the capital city to highlight issues affecting workers across various sectors. BP has decided to not construct its Angelin gas platform in Trinidad. Roget, in response, warned of more protests if health and safety concerns are not addressed. Read more here



Plea Bargaining debate continues

Debate on the Criminal Procedure (Plea Discussion and Plea Agreement) Bill 2017 will continue in the House of Representatives when it sits at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre from 1.30 pm tomorrow. The purpose of this bill is to enable a prosecutor and an accused person, which includes a person suspected of committing a criminal offence and a defendant in proceedings before the court for criminal proceedings, (whether on his own or represented by an attorney- at-law) to engage in plea discussions aimed at arriving at a plea agreement. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi began debate on the bill on March 22. The debate continued in the House on April 5. A total of 13 MPs have contributed in the debate thus far. Read more here

Duke’s day of resistance flops

Only a handful of public servants heeded Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke’s call and turned up at the Brian Lara Promenade, opposite the Twin Towers in Port-of-Spain yesterday for the main activity of the union’s day of resistance. Duke said despite the small numbers his information was that close to 30 per cent of public servants stayed away from work yesterday. “We have done our checks and we have received proper information that approximately 30 per cent of the workforce has stayed home today. I am very satisfied with that,” he said. “I have learnt that in raising your children it matters not how hard they hit you back, once they hit you back, it is a lash. If the Government think we are children, we fighting back today.” The PSA leader warned the public to be prepared for intensified protest action as he is planning further demonstrations within the next two months. Read more here



Camille: IDB confident in TT

The confidence that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has in this country and its economic prospects is reflected in the bank’s decision to establish an Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) Office. This was the view expressed yesterday by Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis. In a statement issued by her ministry, Robinson- Regis said the decision to establish the IIC Office in TT was taken at the recently concluded 58th annual meeting of the board of governors of the IDB held in Paraguay. Noting that this office will be a regional one and its establishment is a first for TT, Robinson-Regis explained that the work of the IIC is closely linked to her ministry’s mandate, in facilitating socio-economic development through the promotion of entrepreneurship. Read more here

TSTT workers protest uncertainty of the company

TSTT’s junior and senior staff continued to protest at its Cipero Road, San Fernando, location yesterday, over the uncertainty of the future of the company. Desmond Campbell, chairman of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), south branch, representing junior staff said there are many critical issues facing workers and hindering the delivery of an efficient and effective service to customers. He identified the aged fleet of unreliable vehicles which is affecting the efficient delivery of service, closure of the training school causing workers not to be up to date with the latest technology, failure to replace staff lost due to VSEP and retirement. He also alluded to an air of uncertainty caused by the absence of disclosure regarding the divestment of the 49 per cent shareholding by Cable and Wireless, in addition to a sharing agreement between TSTT and Massy. Read more here

'Great sales' of hot cross buns

During the countdown to Good Friday, downtown Port of Spain bakeries are reporting “great sales” of hot cross buns. A Good Friday favourite, the hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a white or brown cross on the top. The buns mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial. Initially, in England, they were considered too sacred to eat any old day. In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. To get around this edict, people baked the buns in their own kitchens—although if they were caught they had to give up all of the illegal buns on their premises to the poor. Read more here



New Sheriff Rides Into Town - George Quallo Appointed Commissioner Of Police

Amid wide public support for incoming Police Commissioner George Quallo, there is a suggestion from a former high-ranking member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that his first order of business must be tackling the country’s high murder rate and other violent crimes. The Ministry of National Security announced yesterday that Quallo, a career policeman who enlisted in the JCF in November 1976, will take over as commissioner of police on April 18. He replaces Dr Carl Williams, who opted for early retirement in January. Quallo’s selection by the Police Service Commission was met with approval from the parliamentary Opposition and former colleagues, including Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, who served as police commissioner for two years. Read more here

Buyers beware of St Lucia citizenship program, say experts

Caveat emptor, or buyer beware, is the message from industry experts in relation to Saint Lucia’s newly redesigned citizenship-by-investment program (CIP), which has come in for renewed criticism for its non-transferability from generation to generation, but also that growing opposition within the country makes it unattractive for investors.
Last week the opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) pledged to review every citizenship granted by the current government under the CIP. According to the SLP, the actions of the United Workers Party (UWP) administration weaken the reputation of the CIP. “If the SLP regains power, they have pledged to make every investor pay an additional US$200,000,” said a leading CBI lawyer. “It is getting to the point that if you were serious about buying a second citizenship in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia would be the last place you would look.” Read more here



Syria war: G7 rejects sanctions on Russia after 'chemical attack'

The G7 group of nations has failed to reach agreement over threatening new sanctions against Russia and Syria. Foreign ministers were seeking a common position on the Syrian conflict, before the US secretary of state flies to Russia to try to persuade it to abandon its Syrian ally. The nations agreed there was no solution to the Syria crisis with President Assad in power. But UK proposals to target sanctions at senior military leaders were sidelined. The diplomacy in the Italian town of Lucca follows the latest apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria. Syria has denied it carried out a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun last week that left 89 people dead. In response, the US fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase that it said was implicated in the attack. Read more here

North Korea issues warning as US strike group heads to Korean Peninsula

North Korea has issued a forceful response to the deployment of a US naval strike group to the region, saying it would counter "reckless acts of aggression" with "whatever methods the US wants to take." In a statement provided to CNN by officials in North Korea, Pyongyang said the "current grim situation" justified its "self-defensive and pre-emptive strike capabilities with the nuclear force at the core." Read more here



11th April 2017


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