Daily Brief - Wednesday 16th August, 2017

NEWS

‘I have right tools for job’

Business magnate Christian Mouttet has come out in strong defence of his integrity and independence, in light of criticism levelled against him as Prime Minister’s Dr Keith Rowley’s choice as the sole investigator into the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 vessels, which are now embroiled in controversy. Mouttet also denied he shares a close friendship with Rowley and said he did not request any payment for the services he will be providing. Read more here

Port CEO Suspended

The Port Authority has suspended chief executive officer and general manager Leon Grant, even as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday appointed businessman Christian Mouttet as the sole investigator of the procurement of two vessels for the Tobago seabridge from Canadian operator Bridgeman’s Services Group (BSG). There were also unconfirmed reports that a second employee was suspended. A senior government official confirmed Grant’s suspension and said a press release would be issued but none was received up to press time. Read more here

Relatives wail for fire victims

For more than half an hour, relatives of fire victims, eight-year-old Alliyah Primus and her aunt Nolene Gopaul, screamed and wailed over their single coffin yesterday. Relatives hugged the closed coffin and the two picture frames with their faces. They pounded the box as they questioned the reason for their deaths. “Why allyuh had to take them away from me?” one male relative cried. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Top COP leaders tender resignation

Yesterday's resignation of top leaders of the Congress of the People (COP) – political leader Anirudh Mahabir, general secretary Clyde Weatherhead and deputy leader Lorraine Pouchet – has created a void that is best filled by Sunday’s leadership election, said candidate and former chairman, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, speaking with Newsday yesterday. A document on the internet attributed to Mahabir and Weatherhead said the trio had resigned due to frustration at a lawsuit begun last week against them by one Kirt Francis, despite the trio’s hard work towards a resolution. Read more here

Integrity body asks PATT for key documents

The board of the Port Authority of T&T (PATT) has been asked to submit all documents involving the award of contracts to Bridgemans Service group LP for the leasing of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 to the Integrity Commission (IC). This was one of several issues that came up at Monday’s emergency meeting behind closed doors at the Port of Port-of Spain’s administrative building. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Is Sandals a good corporate citizen?

Last week, in this space, the opinion was expressed that the actions of Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, in moving to have CL Financial wound up and its assets liquidated could jeopardise Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s dream of having a Sandals hotel complex constructed on the Golden Grove Estate in Tobago. That is because the Golden Grove Estate was transferred at the value of $174.8 million from CLICO to a wholly state-owned, special purpose company called Golden Grove — Buccoo Ltd in March this year. That transaction, in my view, is subject to judicial review, as to process used by the government, but not to the valuation of the estate. Read more here

Govt facing large fiscal deficit

As he changes his focus from the CL Financial debacle to the preparation of the 2018 budget, Finance Minister Colm Imbert could be facing a $10 billion shortfall in government revenues for the 2017 fiscal year that may force him to increase gasoline prices again while adding to T&T’s burgeoning debt. Express Business calculations, using official budget documents, estimate that a $10 billion shortfall in government revenues could result from Imbert’s failure to raise the $4.1 billion predicted from the sale of state assets and the lack of success in generating the predicted $5.7 billion from the sale of Clico assets. Also contributing to the Minister of Finance’s $10 billion headache could be a $1.3 billion shortfall in VAT revenues and the $600 million the government will not collect as a result of litigation that has slowed down the collection of property taxes. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Cuban resort upgrades medical tourism services

The famous Varadero tourist resort in the western Cuba province of Matanzas has upgraded its international healthcare center now offering specialized medical services. The cutting edge technology providing the new services includes a biochemical analyzer providing fast lab tests, digital x-ray and ultrasound equipment. Read more here

Three new tropical systems on the move, as Hurricane Gert likely to bypass Bermuda

With Hurricane Gert located several hundred miles west of Bermuda but likely to pass well to the north of the island, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami is tracking three new tropical systems in the Atlantic. An elongated area of low pressure located more than 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. This system is expected to move westward at 15 to 20 mph across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, crossing into the Caribbean Sea on Friday. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

A Trump meltdown for the ages

It was like watching a human Twitter feed. A combative and unrestrained President Donald Trump opened his authentic political soul, in possibly the most memorable news conference in presidential history, that is certain to become a defining moment of his administration. It was supposed to be a routine event at Trump Tower in New York to tout the President's infrastructure plan. Read more here

Theresa May on Trump comments: Far-right should always be condemned

Theresa May has said it is important to condemn far-right views "wherever we hear them" as she was asked about Donald Trump's response to clashes in the United States. The PM said: "I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them." President Trump has faced criticism for blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more here

16th August 2017

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