Daily Brief - Monday 6th January, 2020

NEWS

15 schools closed today for CXC exams

As the new school term begins today, with thousands of students heading off to classes for the first time this year, 15 secondary schools will be closed today to facilitate CXC exams. This was announced by Education Minister Anthony Garcia on Friday at a media conference at the ministry’s offices, Port of Spain. He said the schools will be closed as students will be writing the January version of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations. The schools are: Malabar Secondary, Waterloo Secondary, Chaguanas South Secondary, Marabella North Secondary, Siparia West Secondary; Fyzabad Secondary, Point Fortin East Secondary, El Dorado East Secondary, Mt Hope Secondary, Tranquility Secondary, South East Port of Spain Secondary, Woodbrook Secondary, Sixth Form Government Secondary and Diego Martin North Secondary. Garcia said the schools will open for all students tomorrow. Read more here

Officers to detain up to $5m more of pastor’s tithe money

Se­nior of­fi­cers of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Branch (FIB) are ex­pect­ed to make an ap­pli­ca­tion to a Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trate to­day to de­tain ad­di­tion­al mil­lions re­cov­ered from the Third Ex­o­dus As­sem­bly Church in Long­denville head­ed by Pas­tor Vin­worth Day­al last Thurs­day. It took in­ves­ti­ga­tors close to three days to count the ad­di­tion­al mon­ey with the as­sis­tance of sev­er­al billing count­ing ma­chines that were found at the church in a cab­i­net filled with sev­er­al bags with tithe en­velopes. Sources say the fi­nal count was be­tween two and five mil­lion dol­lars and was con­clud­ed over the week­end. The mon­ey bags had con­tained $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills. Sources told Guardian Me­dia that this ad­di­tion­al mon­ey to­geth­er with the 29 mil­lion dol­lars al­ready seized through a court or­der will be part of the same in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Don’t Sully My Name

This was the call on Sunday by Social Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis to Fixin' T&T head Kirk Waithe after he demanded that she be fired from Cabinet over questions surrounding her banking transactions. Fixin TT in a social media post, called for Robinson-Regis who is also the Arouca/Maloney MP to be immediately fired in light of revelations made after a police probe into a 2016 bank transaction. According to media reports, it was revealed that Robinson-Regis did not withdraw $143,000 from Republic Bank Ltd (RBL) as she had previously claimed. Waithe also called for Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to make public, the letter used to verify the banking transaction. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Equity markets rally in 2019

This week, we at Bourse review the performance of local and international equity markets in 2019. Strong price advances of both Cross-listed and locally-domiciled stocks propelled an impressive market rally on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE). Internationally, major regions overcame several. Read more here

MP recorded trading Food Card for support

“It’s dis­taste­ful, im­moral, I am in shock about that.” That’s the re­ac­tion To­co/San­gre Grande MP Glen­da Jen­nings-Smith had yes­ter­day af­ter a se­cret record­ing of her and one of her con­stituents, dis­cussing the avail­abil­i­ty of a food card/ham­per, be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia. The MP said the con­ver­sa­tion she had with the woman, iden­ti­fied as Clau­dia Moore, is said to have tak­en place one week af­ter the De­cem­ber 2 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion. She added, it is clear the woman does not know the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Food Card, which is a so­cial ser­vice pro­vid­ed by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Fam­i­ly Ser­vices and a con­stituen­cy ham­per from the MP. In the two minute and 52 sec­onds record­ing, Moore is heard telling the MP that she went to the con­stituen­cy of­fice to ac­cess a food card but did not re­ceive one since her name was not on the list. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

AIRBNB ENVY - Gov’t, Opposition Wary As Hoteliers Criticised For Demanding Tax On Short-Lease Owners

Small-scale Jamaican property owners providing hospitality services on the Airbnb platform have received support from both sides of the legislature against continuing howls that their operations should be drafted into the tax net. Wayne Cummings, a past president and council member of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), renewed the call for a levy to be imposed on the unregulated operators while addressing the International Realtors Conference and Expo in Montego Bay, St James, recently . “What we are concerned about is that if those of us who follow the rule of law as taxpayers, from the room taxes straight through to the general consumption tax, then we ought to make sure that everyone else within their space, within what is prescribed for them to pay, is being abided by,” said Cummings, a senior executive at Sandals Resorts International. “Some of those persons are hiding under the guise of being a home resident. That is something that we have to grapple with.” Read more here

Chutney monarch attacked for performing at APNU+AFC rally

THE APNU+AFC on Sunday issued a statement condemning social media attacks and bullying against reigning Chutney Monarch Steven Ramphal by “known PPP facebook bullies, thugs and trolls”, who have been attacking the singer following his performance at the APNU+AFC Campaign Launch last Friday. Ramphal, who used the opportunity to spread messages of unity and love, was among a vast number of local performers that were paid to perform at the event, which marked the beginning of the political party’s countrywide rally schedule, in the lead up to the March 2 general and regional elections. Despite being headlined by Trinidadian Soca singer, “Farmer Nappy”, the Friday night event was heavy on local talent and culture, with performances by several leading Guyanese singers in varying genres including Soca, Calypso, Chutney, and Gospel. There were also dances by the National Dance Company, and Indian dances by the “Berbice Delight Chutney Dancers” as well as an Indigenous dance group. Read more here

  

INTERNATIONAL

Trump threatens Iraq with sanctions if US troops are expelled

President Trump has threatened severe sanctions against Iraq after its parliament called on US troops to leave the country. "We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that's there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it," he told reporters. Tensions are high after the US assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week. Iran has vowed "severe revenge". Soleimani, 62, spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East, and was regarded as a terrorist by the US. The general's remains have now returned to his home country, where mourners packed the streets of Tehran early on Monday. Read more here

The US and Iran are on heightened alert after a weekend of military action. Here's how it unfolded

Days after President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, the US is bracing for possible retaliatory actions by Iran. Before the strike, the US had been pushed to the brink of retaliation against Iran or its proxies on multiple occasions, specifically after attacks last summer on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and Iran's downing of a US drone in June. Read more here

6th January 2020

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