Daily Brief - Tuesday 20th December, 2016


Chinese Takeaway

In an exercise involving police and officers of the Counter-Trafficking Unit (CTU), a Chinese restaurant in Port-of-Spain was raided and ten Chinese nationals detained and taken away in a TT Police Service (TTPS) bus. The ten employees of the Me Asia Restaurant at the corner of Maraval and Tragarete roads in Portof- Spain were rounded-up shortly after 2 pm. According to reports, CTU officers __ acting on information and accompanied by police officers, officers from the Immigration Department and Public Health Inspectorate surrounded the restaurant and began the process of detaining four females and six males, all nationals of China. At the time of the raid, some of the foreigners were in the kitchen area while others who serving customers. While his workers were being herded into the TTPS bus, the owner identified only as ‘Chet’ protested vehemently, asking the officers in broken English if they had any warrant giving them the right to take away the ten. When the officers continued to escort his workers into the bus, Chet threatened legal action insisting that all his employees are legally working in TT and should not be subjected to this action. Read more here

Prepare for strike—Roget

With oil and gas production at record lows and fluctuating prices significantly affecting T&T’s revenue, business leaders are calling on the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) to put the country first and rethink strike action at Petrotrin. As the OWTU entered conciliation talks with Petrotrin at the Ministry of Labour’s office in San Fernando yesterday, president general Ancel Roget warned that if there was no favourable outcome they will be forced to shut down the plant. “We want to warn the country to prepare for strike because if this does not resolve itself, Christmas or no Christmas, we are going to shut the place down,” Roget said. If this occurs, there could be shortages of fuel and cooking gas. Read more here

Man to be charged for Shannon's murder

Just over two weeks after 20-year-old Shannon Banfield was last seen alive, a man is expected to be charged with a crime relative to the murder of the bank worker. The suspect was detained at about 9 p.m. yesterday by officers of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations at his home. He was then taken to the Central Police Station in Port of Spain, where, shortly after midnight, police officers began the process to potentially lay charges against the man. Read more here



Senator calls for ‘Firecracker tax’

Independent Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir yesterday called upon Finance Minister Colm Imbert to consider imposing a “firecracker nuisance tax.” In making this call during his contribution to debate on the Finance Bill in the Senate, Mahabir also called for regulations to control the unfettered usuage of firecrackers and other explosive devices during festive occasions such as Old Year’s Night. “This matter is unregulated. This matter has fallen through the cracks” he told senators. According to Mahabir, the sale of fireworks in the country attracts a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 12.5 percent. However, he said an additional 25 percent nuisance tax should be imposed to ensure the responsible use of fireworks by consumers. Saying he has heard fireworks which made him think the country is “under attack,” Mahabir said the unregulated use of fireworks causes great stress to babies, senior citizens, persons with heart problems and pets. Read more here

PM knocks slow justice system

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday knocked the delays in the criminal justice system and the ability of some to be free on bail to commit more offences to pay their lawyer bills. Speaking at the opening of the new Besson Street Police Station, located at the foothills of East Port-of-Spain, one of the country’s crime hotspots, Rowley said some criminals were of the view that they were wining the fight against crime, adding that this must not be allowed to prevail. “It has to be that the vast majority of citizens and the infrastructure of the police and all security agencies working together...and that is what we don’t have,” he said. Read more here

AG to UNC: Come to Parliament first

Turn up at the Parliament. That is the only way the Opposition can achieve its goal of having a Joint Select Committee to examine FATCA (Financial Accounts Tax Compliance Act) legislation. This was the message from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who also stressed Government and the Bankers Association were of the view there was no need for a Joint Select Committee (JSC), the Government having made all the requisite amendments to the bill in line with the Opposition's concerns. Read more here



Businesseses should explore Cuban opportunities

Chairman of the Export/Import Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (EXIMBANK), John Tang Nian, yesterday told businesspeople at a forum on expanding trade with Cuba that if they got into Cuba, then access to the rest of Latin America should follow very easily. Tang Nian was making remarks during the question and answer session of a forum entitled “A New Era of Commerce...Cuba the new Frontier” held at the headquarters of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce at Westmoorings. He said there are opportunities in Cuba but businesspeople need to visit the island themselves in order to get an idea of the opportunities. He said there are more than 140 embassies in Cuba, more than in the United States, which he said was an indication of the number of countries which are lining up to do business with Cuba. However, Tang Nian said that because of its relationship with Cuba in the past, Trinidad and Tobago has a special advantage. Read more here

TT Chamber CEO: Look to Cuba

CEO of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce Gabriel Faria says local companies should look to Cuban market where they are opportunities for business growth. Faria speaking yesterday at an event hosted by the Chamber entitled A New Era in Commerce: Cuba, The New Frontier, said: “The Cuban market has great potential for Trinidad and Tobago companies. With a population in the vicinity of eleven million strong, business opportunities are rife for the astute manufacturer and service provider.” He said in the Caricom region, T&T is the main exporter of goods and services to Cuba and local companies should continue to build on their presence within the market. Faria said the bulk of exports from T&T to Cuba are from the petrochemical sector. Read more here

Electricity workers on strike

Workers with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Monday began strike action in support of their demands for higher wages. The workers, represented by the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), are seeking an eight per cent wage increase, while the company is offering a two per cent wage hike. Read more here



Private Numbers Exposed - FLOW Customers' Personal Information Inadvertently Released In Yellow Pages

The full scale has not been revealed, but telecommunications company FLOW is scrambling to explain to perhaps hundreds of customers why their telephone numbers and other data that have been private, in some cases for almost a quarter of a century, have been released in the 2017 Yellow Pages telephone directory. Among those whose information has been listed are senior government ministers and top business leaders. The issue has been a major concern to customers, one of whom said responses from FLOW, that they may have to change their numbers to go back on the private listing that they pay to maintain, is "unfair". "I found out about it last night when I received a call from FLOW to say that they had inadvertently listed my two private numbers in the 2017 directory," said a residential customer who requested that his name not be published. Read more here

Suriname signs US$30 million trade finance agreement with Islamic Bank

Gillmore Hoefdraad, minister of finance of Suriname, made a special visit last week to Saudi Arabia where he signed a US$30 million syndicated murabaha (non-interest-bearing) term sheet for supporting Suriname’s economic development through financing strategic imports, according to press release from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. The $30 million financing extended to Suriname is to support the agricultural, medical and industrial sectors. Supplies that will be purchased under this arrangement include basic goods, raw material for production of basic goods, inputs for the agriculture sector, in addition to medicine and medical supplies. Commenting on the signing, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC CEO, said, “This trade financing is at the heart of ITFC’s role in supporting the development of strategic commodities that underpin a nation’s economic welfare and thus provide sustainable livelihoods to a significant proportion of the population.” Read more here



Berlin Christmas market attack suspect a refugee, security sources say

The man suspected of deliberately ramming a large truck into a Christmas market in Berlin is a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, two German intelligence officials and a police official told CNN. The sources said the suspect in Monday evening's attack, which killed 12 people and injured dozens more, arrived in Passau, a city on Germany's border with Austria, on December 31, 2015, after traveling through the Balkans. German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference on Tuesday saying it would be "especially disgusting" if the suspect turned out to have been given asylum in Germany. Read more here

Russian ambassador killing: Moscow to boost security at embassies

Russia's intelligence services are to develop extra security measures for its embassies following the killing of its ambassador to Turkey. Andrei Karlov was shot dead as he gave a speech on Monday in Ankara. The gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, an Ankara policeman, was apparently protesting at Russia's involvement in Syria's Aleppo. He was later shot dead. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was aimed at hurting ties with Russia. It was not clear whether the gunman, a riot police member, had links to any group. Read more here

20th December 2016


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