Daily Brief - Wednesday 21st June, 2017

TTMA in the News

Manufacturers continue to face forex challenges

The TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) says it will continue to search for a source of foreign exchange to ensure the survival of the manufacturing sector, despite statements by Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire that the bank cannot direct the commercial banks to which it disburses foreign exchange as to which sectors they should allocate those sums. The TTMA welcomed statements by Finance Minister Colm Imbert that the manufacturing sector should get preference in accessing foreign exchange, since that sector produces goods which it exports to earn foreign exchange, compared to other sectors which merely use the country’s scare foreign exchange in import and distribution. However, responding to questions on Tuesday at the launch of the bank’s Fiscal Stability Report for 2016, Hilaire said the bank does not have exchange controls, so it cannot direct commercial banks on their distribution schedules, nor insist that foreign exchange be given to specific entities or earners. Read more here

TTMA: Forex a real challenge

The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is challenged to find US dollars. In a statement yesterday, the manufacturers said they noted the Central Bank’s comments as reported in the Express on Tuesday. In the article, Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire said the bank has not been directing commercial banks to give foreign exchange to specific companies. Read more here

 

NEWS

Bad Bret

Tropical Storm Bret dumped not only rain on Trinidad between Monday night and yesterday, but also lots of misery as hundreds of families were left cleaning up the mess left by the storm. Many remained stranded in their homes up to press time yesterday in the hardest hit areas of the south land, central and along the east coast. The second storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, Bret packed winds in excess of 48 km/h which was strong enough to tear the roof off of houses, topple trees, collapse street and traffic lights. Flooding only exacerbated the stress of those left without electricity after the storm’s passage. For Salita Le Blanc of Kissoon Trace in Vega de Oropouche, East Trinidad, she has had to live with floods every Rainy Season as the nearby Oropouche River easily fills to capacity and breaks its banks. Read more here

No bail for Harvey robbery accused

Three men and a minor accused of robbing Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey last week claimed yesterday they were beaten by police to confess to the crime. Lawyers representing Christian Huggins, 19, Miguel Collins, 18, Dion Gillard, 21 and a 17-year-old, who name has been withheld,made the allegations shortly after they were denied bail in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s Court, yesterday. Attorney Chelsea John, who represented Collins, said: “My client has informed me that he was beaten and forced to sign a document which he was not able to read.” Read more here

5 schools hit hard by storm

At least five schools were affected by Tropical Storm Bret and will not reopen today. And three schools being used to house displaced families will also remain closed. Education Minister Anthony Garcia said classes will resume at all other schools today. A statement from the ministry yesterday stated that five schools would remain closed as clean-up and sanitation efforts continued. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Mayor grateful for no Bret havoc

Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez was yesterday thanking God that Tropical Storm Bret passed without causing major havoc to the capital. In a brief telephone interview, Martinez said although there was no report reaching him on how many of the city’s 20 designated shelters were used during the storm. “All the shelters were ready and fully equipped to provide accommodation for those who might have been in distress. There were a number of corporate citizens also willing to help and we have been in touch with them on a consistent basis.” He continued, “I only heard about some trees had fallen and that was taken care of by our emergency crew.” Martinez said that while monitoring the after-effects of the storm via social media, it appeared that South Trinidad bore the brunt of Bret’s ferocity. “I am seeing some pictures coming in that shows South Trinidad and the east coast looked to have sustained the most damage from this storm. Read more here

Suicide report for PM hands

The police report on the death of the 14-year-old boy who committed suicide at a Children’s Authority “safe house” will be sent to Prime Minister Keith Rowley shortly, says Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young. Young made in the comment in the Senate while replying to Opposition queries on the boy’s death. The 14 year old committed suicide by hanging on June 14 while in the care of a Children’s Authority “safe house” at Valsayn. Read more here

Rowley: Let’s work together towards recovery

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was yesterday among those thanking God for sparing Trinidad and Tobago from the full force of Tropical Storm Bret. In a short statement from the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, Rowley commended the first responders and other agencies who went to the service of those affected in the aftermath of Bret’s passage on Monday night. Some comments on social media criticised Rowley as being absent when citizens were in need. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Economic impact of Bret’s shutdown

Economist at the University of the West Indies Anthony Birchwood said yesterday the country would have suffered loss of productivity because of the widespread closure of businesses after the passage of Tropical Storm Bret. However, he said it would be difficult to estimate the extent of the loss because the business closures were for only one day. He said other key sectors had little choice but to close their operations but the country was very fortunate that the businesses which closed were not more widespread and the bad weather did not last longer. He said there was also damage in Tobago, noting that one would have to estimate the cost of replacing infrastructure which was damaged in the storm. Read more here

NGC, EOG sign gas supply contract

The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited and EOG Resources Trinidad Limited reached an agreement for a continued supply of natural gas to the domestic market from 2019, following the execution of a gas supply contract for new reserves on June 14. The signing was held at EOG’s Sweet Briar Road offices on Wednesday. At the signing ceremony, NGC President Mark Loquan described the negotiations as tough, yet exceptional at all levels in both organisations in getting this agreement executed. He said the agreement now “paves the way for increased collaboration for both companies to stimulate increased gas production to the domestic market.” Read more here

Flights resume after Tropical Storm Bret

Operations at both the ANR Robinson Airport in Tobago and Piarco International Airport in Trinidad are back to normal and all flights have resumed. Confirmation came from the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago yesterday. On Monday, flights out of both airports were either suspended or cancelled due to Tropical Storm Bret. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

St Vincent PM calls for regional condemnation of US reversal of Cuba policy

St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has called on Caribbean governments and regional credit unions to loudly condemn US President Donald Trump’s reversal of recent positive advances in US-Cuba relations started by his predecessor Barack Obama. Gonsalves also calls for the Caribbean region, as a whole, to resist the latest attempts to wrest regional support for intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. He issued the calls while addressing the opening ceremony in Cuba of the just-ended 60th annual international convention of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU). Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Saudi king's son Mohammed bin Salman is new crown prince

Saudi Arabia's king has appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince - replacing his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as first in line to the throne. King Salman's decree also means Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, will become deputy prime minister while continuing as defence minister. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, has been removed from his role as head of domestic security, state media say. He has pledged allegiance to the new crown prince, news agency SPA reports. Read more here

Queen's Speech unveils Brexit-heavy agenda at troubled time

A somber Queen's Speech laid out the policy agenda for embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Wednesday officially begins leading a minority government. Queen Elizabeth II read out a list of the government's intentions, with a strong focus on Brexit as well as the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, and last week's deadly apartment block fire. Read more here

21st June 2017

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