Daily Brief - Tuesday 14th July, 2020

Principals: Smooth sailing for first day of CSEC

Principals across TT have said the first day of CSEC and CAPE exams went “very well” said President of the Secondary Schools Principal Association Ronald Mootoo on Monday. Exams began that day with mostly CSEC students sitting exams for French, Spanish, Portuguese, music and other subjects. Mootoo said students were appreciative of the efforts of the principals. Not all exams required students to be on the compound for very long, however, so some students would have gone to school just to submit their visual arts portfolios. He said there was “reasonably low attendance of students, as the schedule would have indicated (but) all principals indicated everything went smoothly.” Mootoo said one principal told him that some students did not have on masks. Read more here

Education stakeholders concerned about health, safety measures

As July 20 nears, the date set by the Ministry of Education for Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) students to return to school in preparation for this year’s exam, some stakeholders in the education sector are still concerned about the health and safety of both students and teachers. The SEA examination will be held on August 20. In a telephone interview with Lance Mottley, president of the National Primary Schools Principals Association (NAPSPA), he said the association knows the Ministry of Education had been currently distributing sanitising materials as well as installing signage at the various schools in preparation for their reopening. Read more here



Al Rawi defends appointment of Chief Public Defender: No politics in law

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says there is no room for political division in the practice of law as he appointed former UNC senator Hasine Shaikh to the office of Chief Public Defender in March. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority's (LAAA) Head Office and Public Defender's Department, Stanmore Avenue, Port of Spain, on Monday, Al-Rawi said he received "curious phone calls" from people who were concerned over his decision to appoint Shaikh in spite of her past political affiliation. He said the success of the LAAA hinged on finding the right people capable of staffing such institutions and admitted that he and the authority's director Gilbert Peterson SC were impressed by Shaikh's ability and legal mind having interacted with her in Parliament. Read more here

COVID takes toll on PM’s savings

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said the value of the savings in his mutual funds account declined by almost 40 per cent, due to current market conditions. At yesterday’s briefing, he said he’s “now down” that much. He added that in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic T&T is going through a particularly difficult period but has to stay the course, make sensible decisions and hope to come out with “lives in hand.” Rowley said he has worked all his life and has a small savings account. He added that he hadn’t told his wife yet but saw the account statement on Sunday night and it had declined. Another account declined by 39 per cent. “I’m not getting any younger and I can’t start over saving, I just have to hold the fort and hope the markets turn around and see if over time these mutual funds will have greater value,“ he said. Read more here



No extension for bar owners

Bar owners will not get an extension of their opening hours due to the threat their businesses pose to the public’s health and safety. Read more here



GECOM Chair must uphold constitution

In her quest to bring the electoral impasse to an end, the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh must uphold the Constitution of Guyana – the supreme law of the Law, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change  (APNU+AFC) has said.
In referencing to the landmark judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali v Eslyn David case, the APNU+AFC reminded that as the supreme law, all arms of state, whether legislative, judicial, or executive, are subject to the normative, enabling, and limiting jurisdictions, powers, and responsibilities that are constitutionally legitimate. Read more here

Sweetheart Probe - RADA Orders Audit Into Farm Benefits To Minister’s Partner’s Company

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has ordered an audit of benefits given to farmers at the Holland Estate amid concerns about conflicts of interest involving some of its officials and the private company managing the state-owned property. The Opposition People’s National Party has also called for the Integrity Commission to probe the selection of Holland Producers Limited. It also wants a halt to any lease arrangements. The developments follow a Sunday Gleaner report that raised questions about the company’s selection, while revealing that Lola Marshall-Williams, a director and shareholder, is the partner of J.C. Hutchinson, a minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF). The couple share a child. Read more here



UK bans Huawei from its 5G network in rapid about-face

The United Kingdom has banned Huawei from its 5G telecom network, reversing a January decision to allow the embattled Chinese tech company a limited role in building the country's super-fast wireless infrastructure. Operators such as BT (BTGOF) and Vodafone (VOD) have been given until 2027 to remove existing Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, the UK government announced on Tuesday. Digital and Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said new US sanctions imposed on the company in May had "significantly changed" the landscape. "Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei's supply chain, the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment," Dowden said. Read more here

Coronavirus: California reimposes sweeping restrictions amid virus spike

California has reimposed restrictions on businesses and public spaces amid a spike of coronavirus infections in America's most populous state. Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered an immediate halt to all indoor activities at restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, zoos and museums. In the worst-affected counties of the south-western US state, churches, gyms and hairdressers will also close. California has more than 330,000 Covid-19 cases, with more than 7,000 deaths. The reimposition of the restrictions in the state with nearly 40 million people was prompted by a 20% rise in people testing positive in the past two weeks and increasing numbers of Californians are now needing intensive care. Read more here


14th July 2020


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