Daily Brief - Tuesday 21st May, 2019

NEWS

GPs in healthy talks at medical forum

Scores of general practitioners (GPs) turned up at the Sanofi Congress at the Trinidad Hilton, Port of Spain over the weekend to discuss the impact of diseases on the country’s public health system. A number of specialists from Central America were invited by Sanofi, a French multinational bio-pharmaceutical company focused on human health, to analyze channels of prevention and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as address diarrhea and the importance of probiotics as a fundamental tool for restoring the balance of intestinal flora altered by gastrointestinal disorders. Read more here

All students will not likely re-sit math exam— official

All CSEC math­e­mat­ics stu­dents in Trinidad and To­ba­go may not have to re-sit the ex­am. A Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­so­ry Com­mit­tee is still to as­sess a re­port sent con­cern­ing an al­leged breach of CXC ex­am reg­u­la­tions, but a source con­nect­ed to the ex­am body said it was un­like­ly that all stu­dents here would be re­quired to re-do it. The source said CXC would on­ly call for an en­tire coun­try to re-sit in the event that it was learnt that the ex­am­i­na­tion pa­per had leaked pri­or to sched­uled ex­am as op­posed to a pub­li­cised in­stance of cheat­ing. The source said, it was more like­ly that stu­dents of the of­fend­ing schools would face the pos­si­bil­i­ty of be­ing dis­qual­i­fied and hav­ing to re­do the ex­am. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Only 3 bids for shallow-water bid round

The Ministry of Energy received just three bids for its competitive bid round for shallow water. The bid boxes were unlocked yesterday at the ministry at, Tower C, International Waterfront Complex in Port of Spain. Of the six blocks up for bid, only three received bids – a single bid each. The sole bidder in each instance was a BPTT/Shell consortium. Energy Minister Franklin Khan acknowledged that the bid round wasn’t as successful as he hoped. “It could have been better,” he said, noting that these blocks were previously relinquished and conventional wisdom has them rated as marginal. Read more here

Privy Council: Did politics taint end of lawsuit against Jones?

This coun­try’s high­est court has ruled that there may have been a ba­sis to sup­port claims that there was po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in the de­ci­sion to with­draw a US$97m law­suit against for­mer Petrotrin ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Mal­colm Jones. The Gov­ern­ment had said the de­ci­sion to drop the case was sup­port­ed by the le­gal opin­ion of British Queen’s Coun­sel Vin­cent Nel­son, now the State’s key wit­ness against for­mer at­tor­ney gen­er­al Anand Ram­lo­gan and for­mer UNC sen­a­tor Ger­ald Ramdeen. In a judge­ment de­liv­ered at the Unit­ed King­dom’s Supreme Court in Lon­don on Mon­day, five Law Lords of the Privy Coun­cil ruled that the lo­cal courts were wrong to dis­miss UNC ac­tivist Ravi Bal­go­b­in Ma­haraj’s law­suit which sought the dis­clo­sure of doc­u­ments re­lat­ed to Petrotrin’s failed bil­lion-dol­lar World Gas-to-Liq­uids (GTL) plant deal. Ma­haraj, in a state­ment, ded­i­cat­ed his vic­to­ry to the for­mer work­ers of Petrotrin who were ter­mi­nat­ed last year af­ter the com­pa­ny was closed. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

BPTT/Shell bid on gas blocks

The two largest oil and gas com­pa­nies in the world, Roy­al Dutch Shell and BPTT were the on­ly ones to bid for the rights to ex­plore for oil and gas in the coun­try’s 2018 shal­low wa­ter com­pet­i­tive bid round. The com­pa­nies joined forces in joint bids for blocks 4 (c), U (c), and Low­er Re­verse L, which are all lo­cat­ed East of Trinidad, where both com­pa­nies al­ready op­er­ate sev­er­al blocks. No bids were made for the oth­er blocks that were avail­able, name­ly NC­MA 2 and NC­MA 3, which are both lo­cat­ed North of Trinidad, and 1 (b) which is West of Trinidad. This ef­fec­tive­ly means that half of the blocks were not bid on and there will be no com­pe­ti­tion in what was sup­posed to be a com­pet­i­tive bid round. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

$9M Money Trail - Sydenham Executive Demands Answers; President Says They Knew Of Controversial Petrojam Donation

Five weeks after a controversial $9-million donation from Petrojam hit the bank account of the Sydenham Citizens’ Association, nearly all the cash was removed in nine withdrawals of $900,000 each, a Gleaner investigation has revealed. The donation is not only the subject of an investigation by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), but has stirred turmoil and finger-pointing among members of the association’s executive. A review of the Sydenham Citizens’ Association account held at a leading commercial bank revealed that the sponsorship by the state-owned oil refinery of $9,000,381.50 was deposited on July 17, 2017. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Iran refuses Trump's offer of talks unless US shows 'respect'

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has said his country won't negotiate with President Donald Trump unless the US shows Tehran "respect" by honoring its commitments under the disputed nuclear deal. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Zarif warned the US was "playing a very, very dangerous game" by boosting its military presence in the region. Zarif criticized the US for sending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf. "Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents, extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game," Zarif said. Read more here

Ren Zhengfei says US government 'underestimates' Huawei

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has remained defiant towards US moves against his company, saying the US "underestimates" its abilities. Speaking to Chinese state media, Mr Ren downplayed the impact of recent US curbs and said no-one could catch up to its 5G technology in the near future. Last week the US added Huawei to a list of companies that American firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence. The move marked an escalation in US efforts to block the Chinese company. Read more here

21st May 2019

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