Daily Brief - Thursday 6th September, 2018

NEWS

Energy firms unfazed by closure

Several energy firms operating in TT in statements recently each said the proposed closure of Petrotrin’s refinery will have no impact on their operations. One said it was “a difficult but necessary step”, while another said it might actually help their profit margins, while a third hoped to offer jobs to retrenched workers. These firms are British-based Columbus Energy Resources, Canadian firm Touchstone and United States firm Range Resources. Columbus in a stock market statement, said the restructuring of Petrotrin will not impede the extraction of oil from its Goudron field which it sells to Petrotrin. Read more here

Sad Petrotrin workers staying home

Days af­ter an­nounc­ing the planned clo­sure of the Petrotrin re­fin­ery, board chair­man Wil­fred Es­pinet is warn­ing em­ploy­ees about in­creased lev­els of ab­sen­teeism. He has al­so is­sued a strong cau­tion to any­one who may be con­tem­plat­ing acts of vi­o­lence to dam­age the com­pa­ny’s as­sets, say­ing they may be dis­qual­i­fied from get­ting any form of ex­it com­pen­sa­tion. In an in­ter­nal memo to staff dat­ed Sep­tem­ber 3 ti­tled “Clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Cur­rent Is­sues,” a copy of which the T&T Guardian ob­tained, Es­pinet ad­mit­ted the com­pa­ny recog­nised that there was a lot of “un­cer­tain­ty and anx­i­ety” with­in the or­gan­i­sa­tion. He not­ed that since the an­nounce­ment of the re­fin­ery shut­down there had been a “no­tice­able in­crease in ab­sen­teeism through­out the com­pa­ny,” which can prove to be “counter-pro­duc­tive.” Read more here

Son gives statement on mom’s murder

The five-year-old son of murdered Palo Seco mother Tehilla St Clair told police yesterday what he witnessed when she was killed. Read more here

 

POLITICS

PM puts career on the line

So convinced is the Prime Minister that government has taken the right decision on the restructuring of Petrotrin, that he is prepared to put his political career on the line to prove it. Dr Rowley told a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting on Tuesday night in Marabella – a stone’s throw away from the Petrotrin refinery, which is facing closure due to rising debt – if the decision will cost him the next general election, it is a price he is willing to pay. “I am prepared to sacrifice my parliamentary and my political future doing what is right for the children of TT.” He referred to newspaper columnists writing after the announcement of the closure, and separation of workers, that he had signed his 2020 election death warrant. Read more here

PM urges aviation workers not to protest

Ahead of Fri­day’s planned day of rest and re­flec­tion, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley is warn­ing Civ­il Avi­a­tion Au­thor­i­ty work­ers that if they take the ad­vice of the Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke to shut down T&T’s air­space, the Gov­ern­ment will take them to court. Dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence on Tues­day by the Joint Trade Union Move­ment (JTUM), Na­tion­al Trade Union Cen­tre (NATUC) and Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Trade Unions (FI­TUN), Duke called on mem­bers of the es­sen­tial ser­vices to take a sick day to rest and re­flect on the strug­gles the work­ing class face un­der the rul­ing Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM). This cat­e­go­ry of work­ers al­so in­cludes po­lice, fire of­fi­cers, prison of­fi­cers and teach­ers. Read more here

Focus on redress for falsely accused

As the Ministry of Labour moves to implement a national workplace sexual harassment policy, calls have been made for more focus to be placed on redress for those wrongfully accused of sexual harassment. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Make medical tourism our next boom

Petrotrin’s refinery will likely close. Even if it does not, any solution will result in thousands losing their jobs. Petrotrin is bleeding money and the treasury is empty. But we cannot directly borrow more without triggering a rating downgrade and higher interest costs. Whatever happens, there will be protests, discontent, and possibly more crime. This makes it more urgent to find new opportunities outside of oil and gas. Looking elsewhere, what can we do quickly and cheaply? Read more here

Shell’s presence in T&T a good signal

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says the presence of multinational oil and gas giant, Royal Dutch Shell, in Trinidad and Tobago is a major signal to other investors that this country is a good place to invest. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Verbal Corruption! - NESol Paid Millions To Company Without A Contract, PAAC Told

"Verbal corruption" allowed the state-owned National Energy Solution Limited (NESol) to hire a private firm, Peak Energy Solutions Limited, and pay it millions of dollars for service rendered without a contract in place. That was the charge of Fitz Jackson, an opposition member of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), at a meeting yesterday. The PAAC was told that Peak Energy Solutions was contracted by NESol, which was then headed by Carolyn Warren, and was paid more than $12 million for work it claimed had been done. This was verified by its then operations engineer, Laurence Pommels, who has since been arrested by the police after he was allegedly found with more than $35 million in cash. Phillip Paulwell, the opposition spokesman on energy, led the questioning during yesterday's sitting at Gordon House, which also heard concerns raised by Mikael Phillips and PAAC Chairman Wykeham McNeill. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Trump sees treason from within

It's impossible to know in the moment when a presidency begins to dissolve. But after a devastating 48 hours, it's already clear that Donald Trump's will never be the same. Whatever your view of Trump, his behavior and his presidency, Washington is watching the opening act of a stunning attempt to topple the elected leader of the nation. Damaging twin portraits of the President in a New York Times op-ed and Bob Woodward's new book are using the words of current top officials to fracture the mythology of vanity and bombast, conmanship and intimidation of Trump's personality cult. In an attack from an enemy within, top officials who see Trump up close, including one calling the band of renegades the "resistance," are finally daring to say -- albeit under Washington's invisibility cloak of anonymity -- what outside critics have long believed. Read more here

India court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling

In a historic decision, India's Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence. The ruling overturns a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377, under which gay sex is categorised as an "unnatural offence". The court has now ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights. Campaigners outside the court cheered and some broke down in tears as the ruling was handed down. Although public opinion in India's biggest cities has been in favour of scrapping the law, there remains strong opposition among religious groups and in conservative rural communities. Read more here

 

6th September 2018

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