Daily Brief - Wednesday 20th January, 2021

NEWS

Prisons Commissioner: No info on alleged plans to privatise prison service

Acting Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan said while he did not have any information on a plot to privatise the prison service, he admitted the vehicles used by the prisons may be the oldest out of all the arms of national security. Pulchan was speaking with Newsday on Tuesday in response to concerns raised by head of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards over the state of the prison service's vehicles. Richards accused the government of neglecting to maintain the vehicles as part of a plot to privatise the prison service. Read more here

Active COVID-19 cases rise

Active COVID-19 cases in the country continued to rise yesterday after the Ministry of Health confirmed 16 new infections from samples collected between January 16 and 18. Active infections now stand at 338. Of the active cases, 42 were in hospitals, five were in step-down facilities and 275 were in home self-isolation. There were 309 people in state quarantine facilities. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Roget: Govt misled us on refinery bid

Hours after government announced its rejection of the offer by Patriotic Energies and Technologies Ltd for the purchase of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, the company’s chairman Ancel Roget said the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) was misled. However, Roget who is the president general of the OWTU – parent company of Patriotic – said he remains committed and called on the Prime Minister to intervene, remove the mortgage on the assets and complete the process so the country can benefit. Read more here

PM: Patriotic failed to meet business milestones

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is dismissing all calls from the Opposition that he resign over the collapse of the Petrotrin refinery sale to Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd. This is because it was Patriotric who failed to meet the “business milestones” which needed to be met to fulfill its end of the deal. In a brief exchange with Guardian Media yesterday, following the Government’s announcement that Patriotic’s latest bid had been rejected, the Prime Minister questioned Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s standing to even make such a call. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Smoother sailing for importers and exporters

The upgraded system now being utilised by the Customs and Excise Division will improve this country’s ease of doing business, the Ministry of Finance has stated. In a release issued yesterday, the Finance Ministry announced that the Customs and Excise Division has upgraded to ASYCUDA World 4.2.2. ASYCUDA is a computerised customs management system developed in Geneva by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which covers most foreign trade procedures. Read more here

‘Bidding must move on’

With no agreement reached between Government and Patriotic Energies and Technologies Ltd regarding the sale of the former Petrotrin refinery assets, the bidding process for the refinery must move on quickly, says chief executive officer of the Energy Chamber Dr Thackwray Driver. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

BK sued $717M for breach of contact

Legal proceedings have been instituted by the State against contractor BK International Inc. and its insurance company, North American Fire and General Insurance Company (NAFICO) for a breach of contract relating to the construction of the Yarrowkabra Secondary School. According to court documents seen by this publication, Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, on Tuesday, filed a fixed date application in the High Court, seeking to recover in excess of $717,887,887 in damages, restitution and money owed to the State. Read more here

Coronavirus Fight Boosted, Fire Trucks Scratched As Budget Slashed By $3.5 Billion

The Holness administration has cut spending on education to help bolster its capacity to fight the coronavirus outbreak as Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke unveiled a $3.5-billion Budget shift for the 2020-2021 fiscal year when he tabled the third Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure in Parliament on Tuesday. The $853.83 billion programmed for the fiscal year has been slashed to $850.24. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

What new Covid-19 variants mean for our fight with the virus

For more than three months the patient struggled against Covid-19. His immune system was already in a bad way when he caught the virus – he had been receiving a drug treatment for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, that depleted some of his immune cells. With fewer of the usual defences against infection, the virus was able to spread in his body relatively unchecked. Read more here

Biden prepares to conjure hope and bear pain for a grieving nation

Joe Biden's life of resilience in the face of unbearable loss will take on new meaning when he steps up to deliver his inaugural address Wednesday as the nation's 46th President. Destiny has paired America's new leader -- a man rocked by tragedy who found the strength to heal his own soul -- with a sick, hurting nation that needs to summon similar steel to beat its harrowing crises. Read more here

20th January 2021

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