Daily Brief - Thursday 21st May, 2020

TTMA IN THE NEWS

Back to business

It’s been just about two months since Government restricted all economic activity to essential operations and from Thursday, manufacturing and construction will slowly start emerging from lockdown. Terrence Rambharath, managing director of Top Mark Ltd, a contractor specialising in finishings, is happy that he and his employees will finally be able to go back out to work. “It’s been a challenging eight weeks. We’ve had to keep people paid all the while not earning any revenue. “Our employees have been with us for 20 years, so managers took a decision early to make the sacrifice to keep our operational staff paid,” he told Newsday. Read more here

 

NEWS

Hosein, Faria welcome reopening economy

Reopening the economy is welcome, economist Dr Roger Hosein said, especially as the manufacturing and construction sectors are expected to come back online Thursday after an eight-week lockdown to mitigate the spread of covid19. But, he added, this will only take the country back to the position it was in February 2020. “What policymakers will now have to (decide) is whether or not February 2020 is comfortable in relation to what we would like to achieve.” Read more here

Austal to launch APT James for T&T seabridge

There was good news for Tobago yesterday as Nidco has announced that one of the new fast ferries for the seabridge will be launched on May 22 at the Port of Vung Tau in Vietnam. And when launched, commissioning works for the new ferry, christened the APT James, will be undertaken. In a brief press release yesterday, Nidco said commissioning works are expected to be completed by the end of July 2020, subject to current limitations of COVID-19 restrictions. It said the delivery date of the new ferry to Port-of-Spain will be subsequently released. In July 2018, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that the Government was “aiming to buy two new custom-built ferries,” for Tobago. The two, he said, would be fast ferries which would be about 89 metres, similar to the T&T Spirit and T&T Express. The PM admitted back then that it would “take some time for them to be built, but if we put the order in now, sometime in the not too distant future, we are going to get two brand new fast ferries, that is what is going to put the Tobago ferry issue to bed once and for all.” Read more here

 

POLITICS

West: Paria accessed US $69 million from Central Bank facility

Paria Fuel Trading accessed US $69 million from a Central Bank facility to cover its shortfall in foreign exchange, reported Minister in the Finance Ministry Allyson West. She was responding to a question in the Senate Tuesday. She said for the period December 2018 to May 2019 Paria Fuel Trading sourced its forex internally or through the commercial banks as the company was experiencing difficulty in obtaining the volumes of foreign exchange required for its operations. She reported that Government granted Paria access to the US dollar foreign exchange facility at the Central Bank. "For the period June 2019-January 2020 Paria used the facility to access US $69 million to cover the shortfall in foreign exchange needed for the procurement of fuel supplies for the local fuel market." Read more here

Security Minister avoids Privileges sanction

A request by the Opposition to have National Security Minister Stuart Young sent before the Privileges Committee of Parliament has been rejected by Senate President Christine Kangaloo. Earlier in yesterday’s sitting Opposition Senator, Wade Mark suggested that Young had breached the standing orders and deliberately misled the House last Wednesday, when he spoke about a May 6 conversation with United States Ambassador Joseph Mondello regarding a visit to T&T by Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez which constituted a breach of the Rio Treaty. At that time, in the Senate, Young said, “... The United States Ambassador had a conversation with me, as a representative of the Cabinet-level of the Government, and there were other conversations had and there was no raising of the breach of any treaty.” Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Domestic activity alone can't save us

On March 18, 1995, the Seahorse Inn Restaurant and Bar opened its doors in Black Rock, Tobago. It celebrated its silver jubilee, last month, but there was no celebration to commemorate the milestone. Instead, the restaurant, known for its enticing international and local cuisine, was shut down on the anniversary of the day it opened for business 25 years ago. Other restaurants and food establishments on the island suffered a similar fate owing to the lockdown on non-essential activity to prevent the spread of covid19. It’s a period Seahorse Inn owner Nicholas Hardwicke will always remember. Read more here

 

Massy half-year profits decline

Massy Holdings Ltd’s profit after tax (PAT) has fallen from $286.8 million to $262.7 million or by 8.4 per cent for the six-month period ended March 31. In its half-year financial statements, Massy chairman Robert Bermudez expressed that the company has still been fortunate during the pandemic. He observed, “Our recent focus on strengthening the governance in the portfolios and giving greater autonomy and decision making to leaders throughout the ranks of all our businesses has allowed the Group to respond to the crisis with great agility.” Nevertheless, Massy’s half-year (HY) profit before tax (PBT) declined by 12 per cent or $56.1 million from $448.2 million in 2019 to $392.1 million in 2020. Bermudez said this decline in PBT is fully explained by some extraordinary events. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

71 ballot boxes processed on Day 15

At the close of operations at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Wednesday, votes from 71 ballot boxes had been recounted, taking the total number of ballot boxes processed to date to 789. There is a total of 2, 339 ballot boxes to be processed. Wednesday marked 15 days since the recount of votes cast at the March 2 General and Regional Elections Commission commenced. Of the 71 ballot boxes processed on Wednesday, 18 were from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), 14 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), 20 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and six from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). Read more here

Ship worker loses baby - Uncertainty over whether distressed pregnant woman from Adventure needed help earlier

As there was celebration that 1,044 Jamaican nationals were being landed at the historic Falmouth Port in Trelawny after being stranded for two months at sea, tragedy was unfolding as a 10-week pregnant woman who was a worker on the Adventure of the Seas cruise ship lost her child. The Gleaner understands that the woman, whose identity will not be published, is currently under supervision at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James. Before the Adventure of the Seas could be landed at the port on Tuesday, an alarm was raised that there was a medical emergency on the ship. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Trump will lose in a landslide because of the economy, new election model predicts

The economy has gone from President Donald Trump's greatest political asset to perhaps his biggest weakness. Unemployment is spiking at an unprecedented rate. Consumer spending is vanishing. And GDP is collapsing. History shows that dreadful economic trends like these spell doom for sitting presidents seeking reelection. The coronavirus recession will cause Trump to suffer a "historic defeat" in November, a national election model released Wednesday by Oxford Economics predicted. Read more here

Amphan: Kolkata devastated as cyclone leaves scores dead

The eastern Indian city of Kolkata has been devastated by a powerful cyclone which has killed at least 84 people across India and Bangladesh. Storm Amphan struck land on Wednesday, lashing coastal areas with ferocious wind and rain. It is now weakening as it moves north into Bhutan. Thousands of trees were uprooted in the gales, electricity and telephone lines brought down and houses flattened. Many of Kolkata's roads are flooded and its 14 million people without power. The storm is the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. Though its winds had weakened by the time it struck, it was still classified as a very severe cyclone. Read more here

21st May 2020

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