Daily Brief - Thursday 11th June, 2020

NEWS

Oil spill clean-up continues in Barrackpore

Clean up operations of an oil spill in Barrackpore continued on Wednesday as contractors hurriedly tried to prevent further damage before heavy rains came again. When Newsday visited the site, workers at Sadhu Village, Lawrence Hill were mopping up the remaining oil. On Sunday morning, a damaged pipeline belonging to Heritage Petroleum (formerly Petrotrin), sprung a leak near a drain off Digity Trace which leads to the South Oropouche river. Work immediately began but was disrupted on Monday by rainfall. This caused thick oil to flow down the river. A worker who did not want to be named said, “The damage is being dealt with and most of the oil spilled was already attended to. Read more here

$20.2M vacation bonus for SEA teachers

Minister of Education Anthony Garcia yesterday announced that the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) will take place on August 20. Furthermore, Standard Five teachers who will be called out to prepare the students for this activity, starting from July 20, will be paid stipends to the tune of some $20.2 million - which will effectively be a vacation bonus of sorts. Garcia made the announcement at yesterday’s Ministry of Health virtual press conference on COVID-19. The exam, initially carded to take place in April, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an October date was initially considered. However, in announcing the August date yesterday, Garcia admitted the ministry was asking SEA teachers to come out to prepare students during their vacation. “We understand and we accept the fact that that would be a period when teachers would be on vacation. We want to respect the right that our teachers are supposed to have an opportunity of enjoying their vacation period,” Garcia said. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Young: 850 nationals on their way home

Approximately 850 nationals will be returning to TT and enter quarantine facilities for 14 days. They are expected to arrive between today and next Friday. At a covid19 briefing hosted by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, National Security Minister Stuart Young said nine people working in Guyana have already returned. Next week the government will receive about 352 nationals working on three cruise ships. The government is also preparing to receive seven nationals who are aboard a Disney cruise ship which is expected to arrive on Tuesday next week. A Norwegian cruise ship will be coming with 19 nationals plus one permanent resident on Monday, and on Friday between 326 to 360 nationals will be arriving on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Read more here

Fuad removed as Jamaat PRO

Fuad Abu Bakr can no longer speak on behalf of the organisation that his father leads. The son of Imam Yasin Abu Bakr has been removed as the public relations officer of the Jamaat al Muslimeen with immediate effect. A statement from the religious body yesterday did not offer a reason for Fuad being removed but it stated clearly that he no longer speaks on behalf of the organisation. The imam’s former bodyguard Lorris Ballack has been appointed as the new PRO. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Healthcare can create thousands of jobs

We must capture the rise in global demand for health created by covid19 to create jobs and draw foreign exchange. Our unemployment rate is estimated to have shot up to as much as 15 per cent, according to economist Roger Hosein. That means almost 85,000 people have lost their jobs in the last few months. Many of those jobs are not coming back. We need new sources of growth. Health and wellness are growing fast, alongside healthy foods, according to Boston Consulting Group’s March 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey. We must pivot quickly. The private healthcare industry, which as of 2015 accounted for more than $4 billion in annual revenue (according to the Ministry of Health), is currently reeling from the shock of covid19. Patients and clients have postponed hip surgeries, dental appointments, personal training and yoga classes. Doctors and patients are equally worried about infection. Read more here

Ghany re-elected as Amcham T&T president

Patricia Ghany has been re-elected as President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (Amcham T&T).This is Ghany’s third term as the Amcham president after initially being elected to the position in 2018.Ghany was elected yesterday at Amcham’s first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting. Speaking on the theme “Business in the New Normal” in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ghany laid out the Chamber’s vision and plans both for society and the role for business. “Our success as a country cannot be measured simply by GDP growth. Neither can our businesses’ success be measured only by profit. From what I have seen in my more than two decades as part of Amcham T&T and in my own business, for the most part, the business community has always taken an interest and supported both fence-line communities and the national community,” she said. Read more here

$476.5m ‘missing’ in $100 note exchange

The Central Bank of T&T said yesterday that the demonetisation programme that was meant to replace cotton-based $100 notes with polymer notes resulted in $7.69 billion being exchanged and $476.5 million not being submitted to local financial institutions or the Central Bank. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

GECOM legally bound to produce credible results

FORMER Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Professor Duke Pollard has asserted that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is bound to produce credible elections results and that it cannot submit to the country information which lacks integrity. “If the information provided for the outcome is not credible, then the outcome itself could not be credible. GECOM is required to present a credible account of this recount process. It [is] strange to see how GECOM can give a credible report of the recount process if it is precluded from substantiating the integrity of the information,” Justice Pollard told this newspaper on Wednesday, adding: “It would be counter productive to do so.” Read more here

Statue rage - Government opens debate on removing monuments to colonial-era icons

As global anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of American George Floyd coalesce around the toppling of white-supremacy monuments, Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia Grange has opened the door for discussion on removing statues of colonial-era icons from public spaces. Grange’s revelation comes a day after London Mayor Sadiq Khan established a commission to review statues, monuments, and street and place names to reflect greater cultural diversity and sensitivity. The minister said that the Holness administration was satisfied that the emerging discourse was necessary to fully confront the inequities and injustices of the past that are impacting modern life. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

In Australia, protesters demand justice over minority deaths in custody

Protesters have gathered in major cities across Australia demanding justice over minority deaths in police custody in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. About 10,000 people gathered in central Sydney Saturday after a court overturned a previous injunction that ruled any protest there illegal because of social distancing restrictions. Similar demonstrations went ahead in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, with protesters waving banners and chanting "black lives matter." The rallies were organized by indigenous rights groups -- among others -- under the banner "Stop Black Deaths in Custody." Read more here

Donald Trump to restart election rallies on key slavery date

US President Donald Trump is to hold his first re-election campaign rally for several months in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the date that African Americans celebrate the end of slavery.  The rally will take place on 19 June, known as "Juneteenth". The Trump campaign said his Republican Party was proud of its role in winning the Civil War and ending slavery. The news follows weeks of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody. In 1921 the city of Tulsa was the site of one of the worst massacres of black people in US history. Mr Trump's rallies, seen as vital for energising his base, were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak in March. He faces re-election in November but is lagging behind his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the polls. Read more here

11th June 2020

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