Daily Brief - Thursday 18th March, 2021


Gopee-Scoon: Over $90m loss in illegal imports in two years

Figures submitted to the Ministry of Trade and Industry estimate that losses due to tax evasion from illicit trade may be as high as $91 million for tobacco and alcohol alone for 2019 and 2020. Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon referred to figures given to the ministry by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the West Indian Tobacco Company (Witco). She said while the ministry has not been collecting data on losses incurred due to illicit trade, Witco gave an estimate of $30 million lost to tax evasion from illicit trade for tobacco in 2020. This includes excise duties, value added tax (VAT), corporate tax, and Green Fund tax, none of which would have been applied to illicit goods. Read more here



17 new covid19 cases

There has been a leap in the number of covid19 cases as 17 more people tested positive from samples taken between March 14 and 16. The number of active cases stands at 121. The Health Ministry’s update on Wednesday said the number of deaths remains at 140. It said there were two recovered community cases. Five people remained in hospital at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility and one person remains at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility. Read more here

Point Fortin Highway to be completed end of 2021

It was described by Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan as the “gateway which will create a new path to the further development of T&T.” And an important part of that gateway was expected to have been opened by the start of this year. But now Sinanan is hoping that the 30 kilometres portion of the highway which is under construction as part of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin project will now be able to be completed by June. “The Government remains focused on completing the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin project,” the Ministry of Works stated. Read more here



Gadsby-Dolly: No politics in awarding scholarships

The process of awarding scholarships is the same as it has always been and has nothing to do with political and familial ties says Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. This in response to accusations by the United National Congress (UNC) that national scholarships were awarded on the basis of those ties rather than on merit. At a press conference on Sunday, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes questioned the transparency of and accountability in the distribution of scholarships and bursaries to students who successfully sat the CAPE examination during the covid19 pandemic as some of the recipients were identified as having “particular affiliations.” Read more here

After grand opening NiQuan facing production problems

A week after NiQuan’s Gas to Liquids (GTL) plant was triumphantly opened by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, it is either not making any of the promised diesel for export or if it is, the plant is doing significantly less than its capacity. The Business Guardian has been told that the plant is at this time making wax but no diesel but Ainsley Gill, Group CEO of NiQuan Energy has denied this, only admitting that it is experiencing what he calls “teething problems.” In a telephone interview on Monday Gill said; “Teething challenges are correct. We are making diesel, we are making wax, we are making Naphta, everything in a point in time, wax, Naphta, diesel. We have been circulating it in our fractionator as well as in our hydrocracker, so we have product in our tanks. But it’s in a small quantity because we are going through a teething issue.” Read more here



Hadco Group unveils recycling service for businesses

Local conglomerate Hadco Group has launched a business-to-business service which will facilitate the collection of waste-paper, cardboard, aluminium cans, cooking oil, used lead batteries for recycling purposes. The new services falls under Hadco's manufacturing and recycling division, and will be carried out by New Age Recycling Ltd, Ecoimpact Company Ltd and Caribbean Battery Recycling Ltd, all of which were acquired by the group of companies over the past three years. Read more here

Basket doh hold water

Energy Minister Franklin Khan has made a bold prediction that by 2025 crude oil production will increase to 92,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), up from its present production of 57,000 bopd. The minister said this projected increase does not take into account any additional major discovery that may be made in the intervening period and which may quickly be brought into production. Khan would no doubt have based part of his prediction on the already sanctioned BHP Ruby project which at peak will add 16,000 bopd and the ability of state-owned Heritage to increase its production based on its significant and under utilised assets. Read more here



Guyana a sleeping giant in investment opportunities

Guyana is poised to become the most exciting investment destination in the Western Hemisphere, President, Dr Irfaan Ali, said on Wednesday. The Head of State made this pronouncement during his address at the opening of the Guyana Basin Summit 2021 (GBS) which was held virtually. The event, which is aimed at creating investment and development opportunities in the Guyana-Suriname Basin, brings oil and gas leaders and the global energy community together during the virtual edition (17-19 March), before a physical conference is held in October in Georgetown. Read more here

Father wants daughter’s killer executed as lesson to abusers, bitter exes

A St Elizabeth father is hoping that a judge hands down the death penalty for his daughter’s former flame who stabbed her multiple times in her sleep last year. Read more here



White supremacy and hate are haunting Asian Americans

In one sense, it's immaterial whether the accused killer in the Atlanta spa shootings admits to a racist motivation. Asian Americans, already traumatized by a rising tide of hate, violence and rhetoric, have been living in fear for months. The murders of eight people, including six Asian women, among them four South Koreans, further disoriented and horrified a community already unfairly stigmatized by racial association during a pandemic that originated in China. And they laid bare for the rest of the country the agony of yet another minority group left to question its place in America, at a time of rising attacks and harassment amid cresting White nationalism and domestic extremism. Read more here

Covid vaccine: UK supply hit by India delivery delay

An expected reduction in the UK's Covid vaccine supply in April is partly due to a delay in a delivery from India of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. The shipment, produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been held up by four weeks, the BBC has been told. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said neither a single factory nor a country was responsible for supply issues. The Department of Health insists it is still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England warned of a reduction in supply in April in a letter to local health organisations on Wednesday. Read more here

18th March 2021


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