Daily Brief - Thursday 16th July, 2020


Customs responds to purchase costs

The Customs and Excise Division has noted numerous complaints over social media regarding charges applied to items purchased by the public and imported via Express Consignment Cargo Reporters (courier companies). To ensure greater understanding of the calculation of these charges, the Comptroller of Customs and Excise Division, in a press release on Wednesday, advised that the customs value (also called CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight) of an item is determined by calculating the sum of the cost (invoice value), insurance (if paid) and freight (the cost of shipping). Read more here

Delay in Seetahal murder case

The group of men accused of murdering former independent senator Dana Seetahal, SC, will have to wait a while longer before they are officially committed to stand trial for the crime. Senior Magistrate Indrani Cedeno was expected to complete the process, which signals the close of the preliminary inquiry in the case, when it came up for virtual hearing yesterday by calling on the accused men to either testify in the defence or call defence witnesses.  Read more here



Khan: Reduction in infant mortality rates thanks to PP govt

Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has addressed claims made by current minister Terrence Deyalsingh that reductions in infant and maternal mortality rates came about during the PNM's tenure. Speaking at the PNM's virtual campaign meeting on Tuesday night, Deyalsingh announced that infant mortality rates were reduced by 50 per cent during his term in office as Health Minister, pointing to an estimated 15 infant deaths per thousand before his party assumed office in 2015. Speaking with Newsday on Wednesday Dr Khan contended that the reduction in infant deaths were the benefits of programmes and policies implemented during his term as Health Minister. He said the programmes took some time to show the results which Deyalsingh is now accepting credit for. Read more here

Joint UNC walkabout in San Juan

There was an almost Carnival-esque gathering along Boundary Road and Boundary extension as supporters of UNC candidates Saddam Hosein and Alhoy Hunt hosted a joint walkabout in the area yesterday. Powered by two music trucks, scores of people followed the two candidates along the roadway during the meet and greet. Some with masks, others without. The trucks occasionally encouraged the converging groups to maintain a level of social distancing to minimal effect. Read more here



BP Renegades builds a business model

Fifty years ago, last month, one of the most iconic and enduring partnerships in the country – BP and Renegades – was forged. And it all happened because then prime minister Eric Williams needed a clever way to quell social unrest. “Amoco (BP’s precursor in TT) didn’t decide on the sponsorship. The government was having a lot of problems with the Black Power movement and there was a lot of unemployment and upheaval in the society. (Williams) decided one of the things he should try to do is get the young men who had steelbands and get them sponsorship. So, he invited Amoco to sponsor a steelband. We didn’t choose the band. The band was given to us as a choice and we accepted it. And that’s how the relationship began,” recalled Frank Arlen, former public relations officer for the band who joined a just few years after the first contract was signed. Read more here

Playing smart with foolishness

It is election time again. It is a time often referred to as the silly season when politicians make all kinds of claims and promises in an effort to convince the electorate to vote for them. This pattern of behaviour is not unique to T&T and both major political parties are guilty of it. What I think the country should however reject are promises that are inimical to T&T’s interest. One such example is the UNC’s talk about the restart of the Point-a-Pierre refinery by the State, with or without private sector involvement. I am on record in my support for the closure of the refinery, not because I wanted to see thousands of workers lose their jobs but because the country could not afford to continue to support operations that were bleeding the treasury, with little hope of a turnaround. The decision to shut down the refinery was bold, risky and potentially political suicide but to the credit of the present administration they had the fortitude to do it. Read more here



‘Await the conclusion’

Even as the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to make a declaration pertaining to the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, United States (U.S.) Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo announced on Wednesday that visa restrictions will be imposed on individuals “responsible for, or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana.” Pompeo made the remarks during a press briefing in the U.S. where he also called on President David Granger to “step aside”on the basis on elections results not yet declared. Read more here

Job Jitters - Sugar Workers Fear Appleton Factory Closure As Company Racks Up Losses’

Communities dependent on the Appleton Estate Sugar Factory in Siloah, St Elizabeth, are facing an uncertain future following news that the J. Wray & Nephew Ltd- owned facility will end production of the sweetener because of heavy losses during the 2019-2020 crop year. J. Wray & Nephew Ltd has pointed to sustained losses in sugar production and the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in the closure of bars and other routes-to-market, on its bottom line. “The negative impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the commercial operations of J. Wray & Nephew Ltd, coupled with sustained losses from its sugar business, has forced the company into consultation about the future of the Appleton Sugar operations in St Elizabeth,” the company stated. Read more here



As Trump refuses to lead, America tries to save itself

President Donald Trump isn't leading America much as its pandemic worsens. But that's not stopping Walmart -- along with Kroger, Kohl's, and city and state leaders and officials -- from making the tough decisions that the President has shirked. Given Trump's approach, if the country is to exit the building disaster without many more thousands dead, it will fall to governors, mayors, college presidents and school principals, teachers and grocery store managers to execute plans balancing public health with the need for life to go on. Read more here

China says a US travel ban on Communist Party members would be 'pathetic'

China says any US travel ban on members of its Communist Party would be "pathetic", in the latest sharp exchange amid souring bilateral ties. The New York Times had earlier reported the Trump government was considering the move, although it is still in draft form and could be rejected. The Chinese Communist Party has 92 million members and how a ban would be enforced is uncertain. US-China ties have become increasingly strained over a wide range of issues. The US this week removed Hong Kong's preferential trade status, after China brought in a controversial new security law for the territory. Read more here

16th July 2020


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