Daily Brief - Wednesday 8th November, 2017


Unicomer invests US$50m-plus in Freeport

The limited supply of foreign exchange (forex) has led some contractors to seek payment in US dollars from Unicomer Group — parent company of Courts — during construction of the Unicomer Freeport Campus. This was revealed yesterday by vice-chairman and executive vice-president of Unicomer Group, Guillermo J Siman, during the formal opening of the 240,000-square-foot facility in Freeport. Read more here

Exchange rate needs adjusting

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says more fiscal adjustment measures are needed to restore stability to the T&T economy. The multi-national agency gave the assessment following the conclusion of its latest Article IV Consultation on October 23. While the IMF commended steps towards fiscal adjustment in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 Budgets, including introduction of property, excise and gaming taxes, royalties on natural gas production and elimination of fuel subsidies, it said additional fiscal consolidation, measures to restore balance in the foreign exchange market and structural reforms are still needed. Read more here

Miss T&T ready for Las Vegas challenge

The road to the Miss Trinidad and Tobago/Universe crown has been anything but smooth for this country’s Miss Universe representative, Yvonne Clarke. Speaking to the Express via telephone yesterday, Clarke seemed to be in good spirits and appeared to have put all that had transpired before behind her. Read more here



Vasant frustrated by UNC Natex

One day before prospective candidates contesting the internal UNC elections are expected to submit their nomination papers for verification, one of the potential contenders Vasant Bharath is claiming he is at a disadvantage in the political race. Bharath said while his political leader used the Monday Night Forum in Couva to launch her campaign, “presumably at the party’s expense”, he is yet to receive the revised membership list among other demands made to the party’s national executive (NATEX). Read more here

We must stop criminal empires in prison—AG

Prison officers will be safer once the corruption and operation of criminal empires in prisons are stamped out, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi maintained yesterday. “Did the grenade at the Frederick Street prison (in the July 2015 jailbreak) get there by magic? Let’s call a spade a spade. There are good prison officers - but there’s also a problem. It requires collaborative effort to stamp out the corruption and stop the criminal empires in the prison system,” Al-Rawi added at a media briefing at his Port-of-Spain office. Read more here

Kamla: An obscenity

The United National Congress (UNC) internal leadership elections are heating up and current leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is gearing up for a fight with lone challenger Vasant Bharath. Read more here



Chamber: Rest Day hurts TT

Actions like the “day of rest” proposed by the Public Services Association (PSA) for the Government’s tax and customs staff hurt the whole country, according to Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria yesterday. PSA head Watson Duke has urged staff of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and Customs and Excise Division to stay home tomorrow and Friday, as he opposed the creation of a TT Revenue Authority that, he argues, could threaten jobs at the BIR and Customs. Read more here

Finance ministry warns workers of ‘rest’ action

One day after the Public Services Association (PSA) urged workers of the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division to “rest” on Thursday and Friday, the Ministry of Finance issued a “reminder” to employees about the regulations governing an unexplained leave of absence. In a release, the ministry said, “November 9th and 10th are regular working days.” Officials quoted from the Civil Service Act Chapter 23:01, Civil Service Regulations Chapter IX Part I: 80 which read, “Casual absence from work with the prior approval of the Permanent Secretary or Head of Department shall be recorded as annual leave.” Read more here

Minister: $3b in local investments in 3 years

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon has calculated about $3 billion in new local investments in Trinidad and Tobago over the next two to three years. Read more here



Ban The Belt - PM Wants Law To Stop The Beating Of Children In Schools, At Home

If Prime Minister Andrew Holness has his way, Jamaica will join the 59 countries around the world that have banned corporal punishment. Holness had previously indicated that he was planning to take legislation to Parliament to outlaw corporal punishment in schools and other state entities, but yesterday he went further. Holness told his parliamentary colleagues that corporal punishment did not align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations Development Programme. Read more here



Sky threatens to shut down Sky News to aid Fox takeover

Sky has threatened to shut down Sky News if the news channel proves to be an obstacle in Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid. Regulators are investigating the deal amid concerns that Mr Murdoch's media empire could become too powerful. Sky told the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that the regulator should not assume "the continued provision" of Sky News. BBC media editor Amol Rajan said it was a "credible threat". Fox owns 39% of Sky but wants full control of the satellite broadcaster. In a submission made to the CMA last month, but published by the regulator on Tuesday, Sky said it "would likely be prompted to review" its position if "the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities available in relation to Sky's broader business". This would particularly be the case if shareholders objected to the merger not happening, Sky said. Read more here

5 takeaways from the Democrats' big night

 After a year of doubts, recriminations and special election misfires, Democrats finally got the big victories Tuesday they'd so desperately craved in the year since Donald Trump won the presidency.  Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor's race and Phil Murphy took a New Jersey governor's office that had been in Republican Chris Christie's hands for eight years. Across the map, in mayoral contests, state legislative races and ballot measures, everything broke Democrats' way.   Republicans will wake up Wednesday in a nightmare: All of a sudden, full control of Congress might be in serious jeopardy. Trump's low approval ratings look toxic. And it could be much harder to convince incumbents to run -- and to recruit candidates into open-seat races -- in such a difficult environment.  Read more here

8th November 2017


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