Daily Brief - Friday 19th March, 2021

NEWS

Contractor caught dumping dirt in river made to 'adopt' it

The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is making a contractor adopt the Guanapo River after he was caught illegally dumping dirt into it two weeks ago, so that the Caroni Water Treatment Plant had to shut down for repair. Speaking to the media during a tour of the facility on Wednesday, WASA’s executive director Dr Lennox Sealy said the contractor, Harry Persad and Sons Ltd, was contacted and one of the proposals include having the company adopt the river and be responsible for its upkeep. He added that a berm had already been repaired. Read more here

$.1m bail for man accused of raping girlfriend’s daughter

A 36-year-old labourer charged with raping an 11-year-old girl was granted $150,000 bail when he appeared before a Princes Town magistrate yesterday. The Princes Town man appeared virtually before Senior Magistrate Indira Misir-Gosine from the Princes Town Police Station. The charges include sexual penetration and sexual grooming of the girl. The accused was the boyfriend of the girl’s mother. The alleged incidents took place between January 1 and March 31 2019, when the man began grooming the child and eventually had sex with her. Her mother reported the matter to Princes Town police, who transferred the report to the Child Protection Unit. Investigators obtained a medical from Children’s Authority doctors, who confirmed the child was sexually active. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Labour Minister: Let court resolve NIB wage clash

Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie on Thursday told Newsday the Industrial Court should be allowed to sort out the disagreement between the Government and the Public Services Association (PSA) over payments due to staff at the National Insurance Board (NIB.) On Wednesday PSA head Watson Duke was due to re-file a claim of an industrial relations offence at the Industrial Court (after it was incorrectly done last week) against the Government. The union is alleging the NIB failed to honour a 2020 collective agreement for workers to get a nine per cent pay hike for the period 2014-2016, and make retroactive payments for increases in paternity leave, car and repair loans, travel allowances and the cost of living allowance. Finance Minister Colm Imbert last week told the Senate he was seeking advice, as this agreement could cost $7 billion. Read more here

PM: T&T never told of access to India vaccine donation

Indian High Commissioner Arun Kumar Sahu did not communicate the availability of India’s 500,000 vaccines to CARICOM and that is why Trinidad and Tobago did not know it was an option. This was the word from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, as he finally answered the month-long question of who dropped the ball over T&T’s failure to access India’s “Vaccine Maitri”, that country’s drive to donate vaccines all over the world. Rowley revealed the information during his Conversations with the Prime Minister last night. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Eximbank helping Trinidad and Tobago's covid19 response

The Export Import Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (Eximbank) has been playing its part to ensure that adequate supplies of food, medicine, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital commodities could be imported into TT during the covid19 pandemic. Eximbank CEO Naven Dookeran listed the ways the bank has been contributing to the national response against covid19 during a virtual meeting with members of the Public Accounts Enterprises Committee (PAEC) on Wednesday. In response to questions from Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, Dookeran said, "When the pandemic began, the Government came out with their covid19 economic response, which covered a number of different areas." Read more here

WITCO suffers decline in profits

West Indian Tobacco is the latest company to record a reduction in profit in 2020. In its financial statement the Company reported it had recorded Profit Before Taxation of $588.1 million, for the year ended 31st December 2020. This is a drop of $19.7 million or a 3.2 per cent decrease compared to last year’s figure.  Profit for the period is $410 million reflecting a decline of $8.2 million or 2% over 2019. In his Chairman’s report,  Anthony E Phillip said, “These results reflect the impact of COVID-19 on the business amidst a weak economic environment coupled with increase in Excise tax in 2020.” Read more here

 

REGIONAL

US$20M ‘Courtyard by Marriott’ hotel gets final approval

Ahead of Guyana’s potential economic ascension and anticipated rise in arrival rates, Cardinal Investments Inc. has positioned itself to absorb the imminent opportunities by completing the final agreements with Marriott International for the construction of a US$20 million Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, next to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). Cardinal Investments Inc., a company owned by Roy and Denise Bassoo, “sealed the deal” on Wednesday, when the company signed four agreements with representative of Marriott International, Eduardo Reple. The agreements signed by the stakeholders are the hotel management agreement; the licence and royalty agreement; the international services agreement; and the technical services agreement. Read more here

NHT PERK

Contributors or mortgagors of the National Housing Trust (NHT) who have lost their jobs for 12 months or more will be able to access their contribution refunds one year in advance, effective this July. The initiative will expire in July 2022. And the NHT contribution refund for the more than 26,000 public-sector workers will be extended to April 2022. The refund was slated to end in 2021. Prime Minister Andrew Holness made these announcements on Thursday during his contribution to the 2021-22 Budget Debate in Gordon House. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Europe has missed its chance to stop the third wave. The US could be next

Europe has missed its chance to stop the third wave of the coronavirus epidemic before it got out of control. Now it's paying a high price for it, with new lockdowns being imposed across the continent. On Thursday night, France announced new restrictions on 16 regions, including Paris and Nice, though President Emmanuel Macron has refused to reimpose a national lockdown as cases soar. On Monday, large parts of Italy including the cities of Rome and Milan once again entered a strict lockdown, while in Spain, all regions except for Madrid have decided to restrict travel over the upcoming Easter holidays. The German capital of Berlin has halted the planned easing of its lockdown too, quoting a rising number of Covid-19 cases. Read more here

US and China trade angry words at high-level Alaska talks

US and Chinese officials have exchanged sharp rebukes in the first high-level talks between the Biden administration and China, taking place in Alaska. Chinese officials accused the US of inciting countries "to attack China", while the US said China had "arrived intent on grandstanding". Relations between the two superpowers are at their most strained for years. The US pledged to raise contentious issues such as Beijing's treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. Read more here

19th March 2021

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