Daily Brief - Wednesday 24th June, 2020

NEWS

PoS Mayor to discuss Columbus statue on Wednesday

All eyes will be on Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez on Wednesday when he meets with his council at City Hall to discuss whether the controversial statue of Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus should be removed from Independence Square in East PoS. The issue has been raging over the past few weeks after several social pressure groups called for the statue to be removed, as it is seen as venerating a man responsible for the genocide of local indigenous people over 500 years ago. The calls for the statue's removal, plus the removal of other statues and the changing of street names, comes at a time when people have taken up the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement spread in the United States over a month ago after George Floyd, an African American, died when a white policeman placed his knee on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes. Read more here

Carnival 2021 on but facing major changes

Barring any major change to the local COVID-19 trend, masqueraders will be chipping in the streets for Carnival 2021, Culture Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly confirmed yesterday. After being severely restricted for months during the pandemic, mas lovers have been fearing they may not get the escape they are looking forward to next year. But well-placed sources involved in the planning process said Carnival 2021 will not be cancelled but in a worst-case scenario, restrictions may be placed on international visitors, who account for the majority of arrivals during the season, if the pandemic is still a major concern. It means the event may only be put on for the domestic or regional market and will essentially be scaled down significantly compared to previous years. Revellers from the United States, United Kingdom and Europe may thus not be allowed into T&T to participate in the festivities. Sources say they are also monitoring the Jamaica scenario since it has been more liberal with its border measures. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Deyalsingh: Covid19 handling no guarantee of election success

St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh said he did not intend to make the mistake of thinking that his handling of the covid19 crisis in TT would guarantee success in the upcoming general election. He made the statement at a PNM virtual town hall meeting on Monday which featured himself, St Ann’s East MP Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Barataria/San Juan candidate Jason Williams. Deyalsingh drew a comparison between himself and WWII English prime minister Winston Churchill. He said after Churchill saved England from Nazi Germany, he campaigned on the basis of his wartime actions, and lost the election. The MP said people wanted water, community centres, streets paved, and other projects completed. “If I can’t deliver those things, I will fall into the same trap that Winston Churchill fell into. Brilliant wartime politician, but lost an election in peacetime.” Read more here

CSO tries new approach to 2021 population census

The Central Statistical Office is exploring new ways to conduct the 2021 Population Census following ongoing social distancing measures being adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was indicated by Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus in Senate on Tuesday. She said, “In view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with respect to new guidelines on social interaction, the CSO is exploring the use of technology which would include telephone interviews, online questionnaires, mail-in questionnaires and limited face to face interviews.” Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Central Bank warns of growing household debt

The Central Bank’s 2019 Financial Stability Report has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to impact the financial sector through channels and at transmission speeds not previously contemplated. It pointed to growing household indebtedness which it said has persisted since the 2017 report and is reflective of household debt that continues to rise at a steady pace alongside a proclivity by the banking sector for consumer-oriented lending. Read more here

Point Lisas must change to survive

It’s time for Point Lisas to evolve. That’s the view of Prof Kenneth Julien, the man regarded as T&T’s energy czar and often credited with the development of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

CEO submits report on valid votes

Utilising valid votes, as ordered by the Court of Appeal, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, on Tuesday, submitted his Election Report, which shows that the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) won the 2020 General and Regional Elections by more than 5,000 votes. “I have taken note of the guidance of the Court of Appeal in Eslyn David v Chief Elections Officer et al in the preparation of my Report under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act and providing advice as required by Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,” Lowenfield said in his Report to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh. Read more here

Hundreds Not On PATH List Get Payouts

A major discrepancy was unearthed by the Auditor General’s Department (AuGD) in one component of the Government’s COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme with more than 700 people appearing on the May list for payment, despite being ineligible for the benefit. The Pamela Monroe Ellis-led AuGD found that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security approved payment last month in the sum of $5,413,100 to 776 people who were not qualified to receive a benefit under the Programme of the Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH). Read more here

  

INTERNATIONAL

Welcome to the whack-a-mole stage of coronavirus

Germany is back in crisis mode. The country is trying to stop a new coronavirus outbreak from turning into a full-blown second wave of infections, after hundreds of people working at a meat processing plant in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia became ill. It's a serious situation, but the German government isn't rushing to reintroduce the kind of strict nationwide lockdown measures it used to fight the virus earlier this year. Instead, public health officials are hoping they will be able to contain the outbreak by introducing more nuanced local measures and going all in on testing and contact tracing. Their approach echoes similar tales from elsewhere. Read more here

Top US health official Fauci warns of 'disturbing' new US surge

America's top infectious disease expert has told lawmakers that the US is seeing a "disturbing surge" in coronavirus infections in some states. A panel of health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, said the next few days will be crucial to stem the new outbreaks. Cases are climbing rapidly across a number of US states. The four top experts also testified they were never told by President Donald Trump to "slow down" testing. Their comments come after Mr Trump told a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he had asked his team to do less testing to help keep official case counts down. "To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing," Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to a congressional committee investigating the US response to the pandemic. "In fact, we will be doing more testing," he added. Read more here

24th June 2020

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