Daily Brief - Thursday 10th January, 2019

NEWS

Local farmers being prepped to export to US

Local farmers were being trained and prepared to have their fresh produce exported to the US says National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) CEO Nirmalla Debysingh-Persad. She was speaking yesterday as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) examined the audited accounts of Namdevco for the period 2008-2011 during a meeting at the Parliament building, Port of Spain. Debysingh-Persad said Namdevco sent a team to Canada to begin the registration process and seek opportunities to trade with the country. She said under food safety and export Namdevco was currently developing a good agricultural practices programme for TT that was certifiable and would be audited by foreign auditors. Read more here

Crackdown on illegal quarries, two held

Com­mis­sion­er of State Lands Emeris Gar­raway-How­ell and a team from the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Lands and Fish­eries yes­ter­day swooped down on two il­le­gal quar­ries at Ve­ga de Oropouche in East Trinidad. Act­ing on in­tel­li­gence Gar­raway-How­ell and her team to­geth­er with po­lice of­fi­cers from the North­ern Di­vi­sion Task Force Cen­tral Area went to a re­mote area where an il­le­gal op­er­a­tion be­gan about two months ago. The team, how­ev­er, was off to a rocky start as they did not get the prompt as­sis­tance and sup­port from the T&T De­fence Force as ini­tial­ly promised. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Buy, don’t rent vehicles

In an attempt to minimise cost, opposition senator Wade Mark suggested that the Ministry of Works and Transport invest in maxis and heavy-duty vehicles at the Port of Port of Port of Spain instead of renting, as that would be more costly in the long-term. Mark made the statements during a Public Administration and Appropriation Committee sitting at Parliament yesterday in which he questioned why officials of the Port Authority spent over $2 million between 2006 to 2018 on the rental of maxi taxis for the transportation of port workers. Read more here

Minister welcomes President's education overhaul call

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia is wel­com­ing the call for a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem as sug­gest­ed by Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes dur­ing the Pres­i­dent’s Medal Award Cer­e­mo­ny 2018 Tues­day at NA­PA. “Her Ex­cel­len­cy’s view is shared by us at the Min­istry as it co­in­cides with the work that the Min­istry is cur­rent­ly car­ry­ing out to im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem," Min­is­ter Gar­cia said. He added: "We have been able to, over the past three years, not on­ly shift our fo­cus to pri­or­i­tiz­ing lit­er­a­cy, nu­mer­a­cy and pen­man­ship for all of our school-aged chil­dren, but al­so pro­vide our stu­dents with the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ex­cel in sports as well as the vi­su­al and per­form­ing arts. We have em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of holis­tic teach­ing and learn­ing and this is be­ing re­flect­ed in the out­comes of our stu­dents. In this past aca­d­e­m­ic year, we record­ed the best per­for­mance in ten (10) years”. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Another brick in the wall

Some surly, some bouncing off walls; children bring joy and frustration in equal parts. Lunch kits, stationery and the all-hallowed school bag are banged about or artfully arranged. All part of the start of the new term this week. The world is changing rapidly with increasing automation: the robots are coming. This will require wholesale education reform if we are to adapt. Before doing so, we must learn to read. The Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) and the University of the West Indies last reckoned that up to 23 per cent cannot read well enough to go about daily tasks – like reading a medicine label or a newspaper headline. Read more here

Sunwing interested in Magdelena Grand

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has met with a high-lev­el ex­ec­u­tive team from the Cana­di­an-based Sun­wing Trav­el Group, just weeks af­ter Sun­wing be­gan a ser­vice from Toron­to, Cana­da to To­ba­go. The meet­ing took place to­day at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre, St Anns. The Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter (OPM) said that Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Stephen Hunter, Vice Pres­i­dent Daniel Di­az and Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent, Busi­ness Af­fairs Sabah Mirza rep­re­sent­ed Sun­wing at the meet­ing. The state­ment by the OPM said dis­cus­sions fo­cused on Sun­wing’s in­ter­est in an in­creased pres­ence in To­ba­go in­clud­ing an in­ter­est in the op­er­a­tions of the state-owned Mag­dale­na Grand Beach and Golf Re­sort. Read more here

Monteil and Duprey in $444m payoff deal

More than $400 million worth of shares was transferred by former CLICO Investment Bank (CIB) chairman Andre Monteil back into the company in exchange for it to negate a $78 million loan he had acquired to facilitate one of his own companies in 2007. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

$30M OVERRUN - Public Made To Cough Up $80m For Local Gov't Ministry's Tardy Renovation Works, Cites Auditor General

Poor planning and failure to do adequate due diligence have resulted in the public coughing up an additional $30 million for renovation work at the Hagley Park Road, St Andrew, offices of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development. This caused the cost of the contract to move from $50.66 million to $80.66 million, the Auditor General's Department (AGD) has revealed. It was cited in the AGD's annual report for 2018 that 15 months after signing a lease agreement for the property, the ministry used what is called the 'Direct Contracting - Emergency' method to engage a contractor on March 15, 2018, to renovate 18 specified areas of the building, or 28,533 square feet, at a cost of $50.6 million. The contract specified that works would commence on March 9, 2018, and end on March 29, 2018, or lasting just 21 calendar days. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

No way out: Trump walks out, Dems remain firm

Donald Trump's hatred of looking foolish and Democrats' conviction that they have a winning hand is leaving the President with no way out of the stalemate over his border wall. That means hundreds of thousands of federal workers, in limbo in a government shutdown that is within days of becoming the longest on record, are about to pay a heavy price when their paychecks don't arrive as normal on Friday. Far from moving toward a resolution, the shutdown, which started in the old Republican Congress and has stretched into the new Democratic House majority, is becoming more intractable by the day. Read more here

DR Congo presidential election: Outcry as Tshisekedi named winner

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won DR Congo's presidential election, electoral officials say. The announcement, made overnight, sparked accusations of an "electoral coup" from runner-up Martin Fayulu. France said the figures did not match results collated on the ground by monitors from the Catholic Church. The ruling party, whose candidate finished third, has not yet contested the result, sparking accusations of a power-sharing deal with Mr Tshisekedi. It is an accusation Mr Tshisekedi's team denies. If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence in 1960. Current President Joseph Kabila is stepping down after 18 years in office. Read more here

10th January 2019

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