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Ste Madeleine handyman shot in head

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 22:00


Facing death after a gunman pumped a bullet into his head, Zainool Mohammed ran frantically to his niece’s home crying out for help.

Within the seconds it took for his niece, Sherene Mohammed, to reach her front door, however, Mohammed died and his killer had escaped.

Police said Mohammed was at his home on Coquette Street, Ste Madeleine, around 10.35 pm Wednesday when he was shot.

Sherene said yesterday that she heard a single gunshot, followed by Mohammed calling her name.

As she walked outside, she said she was frozen with fear as she saw her uncle lying still in front their gate. She said he had a gunshot wound under his chin that looked like someone pressed a gun there and shot him. Relatives believe someone he knew well and shared a cordial relationship may have been the killer because of how close the person got before shooting him. Ste Madeleine police and an ambulance responded, but Mohammed was dead before they got to the scene.

The murder came as a shock to relatives, who said he never got into arguments or fights with anyone and never complained of any threats. They said since Caroni (1975) Ltd was shut down, he had been cleaning yards and doing small jobs around the neighbourhood to make a living. Most of his days were spent liming with a friend in the area.

But police said while they had no clear-cut motive for the killing, his addiction to cocaine and crimes as a petty thief may have led to his demise. At her Petit Morne home yesterday, Mohammed’s mother, Shiroon Mohammed, said he was a good son but would give “a little trouble” whenever he smoked his cocaine.


Categories: News

Brother, sister capture Sagicor golf titles

Sports - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 22:00

Wan Ju Lee and his sister Ye Ji walked away with the men’s and women’s Championship trophies at the Sagicor-St Andrews Golf Club Invitational held on the weekend. The annual event, in its 18th year under the Sagicor brand, saw 98 participants take to the greens.

Participants were grouped in flights based on their handicap and age, and competed against golfers of equal skill level. The tournament had seven flights play 36 holes as individual stroke play: Men’s Championship; 1st Flight; 2nd Flight; 3rd Flight; Seniors 1st Flight 50-plus; Super Seniors 60-plus; and Women's Championship.

The top finishing golfers have been awarded points, based on their performance, towards selection for the national golf team.

Wan Ju, this year’s winner with a record low score, claimed victory in the Championship Flight with scores 71, 69 a total of four under the golf course par. Wan Ju has represented T&T on both the junior and senior national teams. He continues to show much improvement every time he returns from Coker University in South Carolina, where he plays on their division II golf team.

In the women's category, Ye Ji, last year's champion, has maintained her number one ranking in T&T over the last year among the local golfers competing.

Ye Ji reclaimed the title after shooting 76, 75 which is four shots better than her winning score last year. Ye Ji, 14, has represented T&T on both the junior and senior national teams as well. Her future looks promising as she continues to improve as a high-performance women’s athlete.

Categories: News

Court gives Warner 120 days to raise $3.7 million

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:08

Former government minister Jack Warner has 120 days to raise to $3.7 million or sell three of apartments at his Emerald Plaza Hotel at St Augustine to settle an outstanding judgment debt. 

Warner agreed to those terms after Docs Engineering Works Ltd filed a judgment summons for the court to order Warner to sell Emerald Plaza and use the money to settle the debt. 

In 2011, Le Sportel Ltd, a company owned by Warner, was ordered to pay Docs Engineering $7.5 million for breach of contract.

Docs Engineering was contracted by Le Sportel to construct the Emerald Plaza, but in January 2001, Le Sportel terminated the contract. 

Warner appealed the judgment. The $3.7 million represents costs owed to Docs Engineering. 

Yesterday, the parties entered into a consent order before Justice Frank Seepersad in the San Fernando Civil Court. Warner agreed to sell the apartments at a cost of $5 million if he fails to raise the money in 120 days.

This comes less than two weeks after Warner was ordered to pay $1.5 million to businessman Krishna Lalla in another civil matter in the High Court.

Lalla, the founder of Super Industrial Services, said the money was a loan, but Warner claimed the money was to finance the UNC party election campaign.

Categories: News

More gas should be sent downstream

Business Guardian - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:51

Should T&T ensure that downstream petrochemical companies receive their full quota of natural gas before any is sent to Atlantic LNG? According to the findings of the latest EITI report there may be a case for the petrochemical sector to be favoured over LNG.

The 2016 EITI report reveals that while LNG accounted for 54 per cent of total gas usage, the market value of LNG out of T&T was US$1.43 billion. Compare this to petrochemicals inclusive of methanol, ammonia, melamine and urea which utilised 36 per cent of the country’s gas and its value was significantly higher than LNG at US$2.2 billion.

In the report, market value was calculated rather than the return to government since there was insufficient transparency in contractual arrangements.

“The market value of production gives an idea of how much T&T’s commodities are worth to buyers. The market value of production is calculated by multiplying the volume of production by the benchmark price for the specific commodity (eg crude oil, natural gas, ammonia, etc.).

“Importantly, these values do not reflect the actual revenue or income that an extractive company retains from the sale of these commodities because companies give the government a percentage of these receipts (as agreed to in production sharing contracts.” the report states.

These findings are in keeping with the results of the Poten and Partners natural gas master plan which revealed that the country received its highest return per molecule of gas by the sale of ammonia, followed by methanol. This seems to bolster the argument from downstream companies that natural gas allocation be sent to their plants where the country stands to get the best return for its resources.

According to the EITI report, over the past five years, the market value of T&T’s LNG production decreased significantly by approximately 68 per cent from US$3.83 billion in 2013 to US$1.22 billion for January to August 2017.

The decline is due in part to falling production as a result of the natural gas curtailment that also hurt Atlantic LNG but is also partly due to falling LNG prices at the US Henry Hub. This has meant lower returns to the country and has placed additional pressure on petrochemical companies as they compete with the US companies that are getting their feedstock for lower prices.

The report also noted that the market value of ammonia is calculated by multiplying monthly ammonia production by the corresponding monthly Caribbean ammonia market price per metric tonne quoted in US dollars. These monthly values are added for each month of the year to obtain the total annual market value of ammonia production.

“Because of higher prices and production in 2014, the annual market value of ammonia increased marginally by five per cent from US$2.3 billion in 2013 to US$2.5 billion in 2014.

“However, after 2014 the market value fell consistently until 2017. This consistent decrease reflected the collapse of ammonia prices over the period, which was mainly due to the decline in natural gas prices.

Natural gas or crude oil are used as feedstock to manufacture ammonia. As the cost of the feedstock decreased, the cost of manufacturing a metric tonne of ammonia also decreased,” the report stated.

Only last week chief executive officer of Caribbean Nitrogen Company and N2000, Jerome Dookie revealed that his company is operating way below its name plate capacity because of the continued shortage of natural gas.

Like Finance Minister Colm Imbert, he is optimistic that the issue will be resolved but in the meantime his company, like many others on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, is experiencing challenges due to the shortage.

Dookie said over the last 15 years CNC has contributed more than $17 billion to the local economy.

“We are talking about actual checks written and money transferred and so on that has gone into the local economy, and that is of course just the direct payments and we are not talking about the multiplier effect,” he said.

Based on how the value chain worked, he explained, upstream producers like bpTT and Shell invest money to explore, discover and produce the gas. Those companies, along with the services companies working for them, generate economic activity that way. The gas is transported by the NGC which earns a profit from their activities, then it makes its way to the CNC plant which employs people, pay taxes and generates billions of dollars in economic activity.

Dookie said he is hopeful that there will be a return to full supply in the medium term and praised Proman for investing upstream to increase gas supply.

He said: “I spoke about the pioneering role that Proman has played in the country’s petrochemical sector, so building now on the downstream thrust with methanol and ammonia, Proman Group has now gone upstream in recognition of the gas shortage situation and has taken the bold step by investing heavily in DeNovo.”

Categories: News

DocuCentre launches online PrinTree

Business Guardian - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:49

After two decades of providing printing services on the domestic market, DocuCentre Ltd has diversified, adding print-on-demand services through its new digital online platform, PrinTree.

Customers can upload artwork to the platform, pay with a credit card and have the finished work delivered by TTpost or FedEx. The platform allows for printing of call cards, wedding invitations, thesis, photobooks and other items.

PrinTree was launched with an exhibition at One Woodbrook Place attended by chief operating officer Jean de Silva and Nekesha Ramey, business development manager.

Ramey said the online platform allows customers to save time because they don’t need to go through traffic jam to place an order.

“We have partnered with TTpost and Fedex. TTpost does the local deliveries, while Fedex does the international deliveries. Throughout T&T the cost to deliver is $40. We didn’t want someone living in South to pay the (high) costs, so we standardised the costs throughout T&T.”

To access the service, a customer must log on to the PrinTree website, create an account and choose the service they want. If the customer does not have artwork there are free templates on the site.

On the issue of privacy, she assured: “There is nothing to worry about as the site itself is secured by Amazon web services. Just the name alone will tell you the strength and power behind that type of security.

Each end of the business is secured by people with years of experience in the industry and who currently have robust standards.”

The regular print services offered at DocuCentre have not changed.

The difference is that those services are now available to the customer who is always online, as well as the customer who wants to go to the DocuCentre to get the job done.

De Silva said research done before the platform was launched showed a trend developing in the market where people want to do printing online.

“A lot of people are starting to use online print solutions out of the US and Canada. They were looking for convenience,” he said.

A future goal for the company is to reach the T&T diaspora, as nationals living outside the country want to stay connected with their relatives here. Doing business with the diaspora also helps T&T to get US currency when the product is shipped and paid for in that currency, De Silva said.

He added that the quality of the print job will be a high quality as the equipment and technology used from Xerox and HP.

Nicholas Galt, chairman of Trinidad Systems Ltd, the parent company of DocuCentre, said PrinTree is the evolution of traditional print in the “do-it-yourself digital domain.

He added that the company “has been a forerunner in setting the pace in technology and expertise in the local print industry for more than 20 years. We recognised the need to take the service to our customers with a customer-friendly online shopping experience.”

Categories: News

The Lara look ...Cricket legend inspires eyewear collection

Business Guardian - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:45

The newest eye wear brand from Ferreira Optical is inspired by cricket legend Brian Lara, known for his skills as a batsman, Lara’s legacy is being further immortalised in a collection eye wear frames that bear his name.

Sean Francis, CEO of Ferreira Optical, describes Brian Lara Vision Collection as a “first for T&T.”

“We are actually developing a brand of eyewear in the name of a local icon, a local celebrity, for want of a better word. We are happy that Brian Lara consented to do this simply because of who Brian Lara is.

He’s not just an icon, not just in T&T. Years after he stopped playing cricked, he is still recognised.”

The Brian Lara Vision Collection—which was recently launched at the cricket legend’s residence on Lady Chancellor Hill, Port-of-Spain—comprises eyewear where, according to a release from Ferreira Optical, fashion and sport collide giving birth to a new brand with international appeal.

“It embodies a marriage of sophistication, style and conservative glam with materials ranging from gold, palladium, titanium, buffalo horn and Swarovski crystal.

“Captured in the tiered range are some of Lara’s records such as The 400 and The 501. Other sections of the collection include The Brian Charles Lara and The Lara. All tiers capture elements of Lara’s career during cricket and beyond,” the company said in a statement.

Francis said the company, which has eight branches across the country, has been manufacturing their own in-house frames since 2009. A few years after that, they came up with the idea of attaching the name of a local celebrity with brand value.

“A couple people came to our mind but the person who was at the top of the list was Brian Charles Lara. We approached him, we got his lawyer, then his manager, then him. When we did share it with him, he felt that it was something he could have supported. We felt it was an honour and privilege. This was by 2016,” he said.

A designer who has worked on brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci was contracted to design the frames.

“As soon as she heard the name Brian Lara she knew who it was. The excitement was there. By early March we had the frames with Brian Lara’s name,” Francis said.

Ferreira is positioning the brand as premium to represent Lara’s class and sophistication. The high-end tier of the collection is called the “Brian Charles Lara”, while the rest of the collection captures his post-cricket life as a businessman.

The Brian Charles Lara premium category consists of four styles with frames made of platinum, gold and buffalo horn. This costs $2,995.

“When people hear the name Brian Lara they expect a sports brand. It is more than that,” Francis said.

He has high hopes that the public will buy into the new premium brand.

“We expect that there is a segment of the population that will want to come, see, look and wear. We are hoping this will attract more business to us. We want to put some distance between ourselves and the competition.”

Local innovation

The company first in-house brand of eye wear was Emmanuel Nissi.

“We do it through manufacturers in China. It is our label, our brand, our designs. In 2009, there was the global meltdown and we were expecting that would eventually find its way to Trinidad and Tobago in terms of the negative fallout.

“We felt that price would become an issue for consumers, so that pushed us to go straight to the manufacturer as opposed to going to a distributor,” Francis said

Prior to that, 100 per cent of what they sold was imported.

“About 30 per cent of the frames we sell are our own brand. We have never promoted it as an in-house brand but as a brand we have.

“It is a frame developed with Caribbean people in mind. Caribbean people like colours, the international brands caters more for a European market so you would not always get frames with a lot of colours,” he said

According to Francis, the market is highly competitive.

“Twenty years ago when I joined the company there were 50 optical stores and locations in Trinidad and Tobago. Today, it is close to 150. We are the leader in the market in terms of market share. We have seen a fall in the size of that share, but we still hold the largest market share,” he said.

Foreign markets

Francis said eventually they hope the Brian Lara Vision Collection will be sold internationally.

“The licensing arrangement we have with Brian Lara is to distribute this brand throughout the Caribbean. Brian’s name will have recognition in the Caribbean,” he said.

Emmanuel Nissi brand is already sold throughout the Caribbean.

“Our product is of a good quality. One of the learnings for us in going up the islands is that they are very price sensitive. Their first discussion is the price points, not the brand.

“The exception to that is Jamaica. The Jamaicans want a brand. We expect this new brand to do well in a country like Jamaica where they are very brand conscious,” he said.

Commenting on current economic conditions, Francis said: “There are certain tendencies that people have towards eye wear. We recommend that people have their eyes examined every two years. If people’s glasses are working for them, now they will try to extend it a long as possible.

“In a recession we see two things, people lengthening the time for which they return to change their glasses and we see people re-using their eye wear.”

Francis said in the last three years there has been a small drop in sales year-on-year.

“This year is the only year we have seen things picking back up. It is the economy and the competition. Despite what has been happening, new optical companies have been opening up,” he said.

Like any other industry, business owners have to constantly think about what they can do to add value and cement leadership position in the market.

‘What makes us different is customer service. That is something we pay attention to. What we have always tried to leverage is the customer service experience. We are always the company that has come out with the leading and cutting-edge solution in lenses,” Francis said.

Categories: News

Finding success with STEM

Business Guardian - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:38

The fourth revolution (4IR) has started and it is already changing the way of life, work and how people relate to each other. It’s characterised by the fusion of technologies that’s blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological.

That is why there is an urgent need to reshape T&T’s future by putting people first and empowering them, and it must begin with critical thinking. The innovators are the ones who stand to benefit the most.

According to economist Indera Sagewan-Alli, 4IR is “mobile supercomputing, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements and genetic editing.”

She explained: “It’s significantly changing the way we do business and therefore our understanding of competitiveness.”

The concept was unveiled when Shell T&T in collaboration with the Ministry of Education hosted the first national consultation on STEM (Science Technology Education and Mathematics ) at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.

“The 4IR is evolving at an exponential rather than linear pace, and in so doing, disrupting industries globally and transforming entire systems of production, management and governance,” Sagewan-Alli said
She gave the example of Professor Klaus Schwad, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, who had warned that it is still unknown how 4IR will unfold and advised that the response be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

Good and bad

Giving an analysis of the 4IR and its potential impact globally, Sagewan-Alli said this includes a rise in income levels, improving the quality of life, increasing productivity through technological innovation, reducing the cost of transportation and communication, making logistics and global supply chains more effective, diminishing the cost of trade, opening new markets and driving economic growth.

However, there are negative consequences as well.

“At the same time, the revolution could yield greater inequality, disrupt labour markets as automation substitutes for labour across the entire economy, exacerbate the gap in returns to capital and returns to labour due to net displacement of workers and machines” Sagewan-Alli said.

She warned that inequality represents the greatest societal concern of the 4IR, adding that the largest beneficiaries of innovation are the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators.

She said one of the greatest challenges of new information technologies is privacy. 

Karen Lynch, principal consultant at market research entity, Sacoda Serv Ltd, zeroing in on STEM described the programme as a tool for social change, one of the cornerstones of human capital development and one of the pillars for economic recovery.

She said STEM in industry is not new to T&T as the approach has led to successes in oil and gas, in the aviation industry and the Point Lisas monetisation of gas.

What is different now, Lynch noted, is the rapid pace of change in technology and increased requirements from the labour market which has placed further demands on the systems.

When Shell introduced the STEM programme for schools, it was born out of 21st century challenges as requirements of the information age are accompanied by greater demands from the labour market. Life skills, creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork are now key elements of workplace survival.

STEM provides the framework for the transformation the educational system needs to respond effectively to labour market requirements.

“Students are prepared for the labour market through partnerships with stakeholders in industry and tertiary level institutions,” Lynch said, adding that 8500 students and more than 60 teachers have benefited.

“Mathematics as the language of STEM is no longer abstract but embedded in all aspects of the programme delivery,” she explained.

Other outcomes are exploration of new areas of learning in subjects not taught in any great detail in the school system, including petroleum geology, geographic information systems, seismology and aviation.

“Our future expectations are that we will achieve greater success at the national level by expanding our talent pipeline through the creation of work ready graduates who can innovate.

“This, in turn, will lead to diversification, economic growth and transformation as well as a place in the fourth revolution which is already upon us,” Lynch said.

T&T to benefit from NXplorers

Shell, together with the UK-based company Shaping Learning, has developed NXplorers, a unique educational programme offering young people, future scientists engineers innovators and leaders, a fresh way of thinking and an opportunity to develop a transformational skillset.

T&T is the latest country to benefit from this programme during which teacher training programmes have already begun.

“The methodology is designed to develop what we have termed as the STEM ‘habits of mind.’ These are vital skills our scientists and engineers need such as systems thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, team working and complexity analysis,” Tariq Hussain, STEM manager, ER Social Performance Centre for Excellence, Shell International explained.

NXplorers is a facilitated programme that can be run in schools, universities and learning centres. It is open to young people at various stages of their education or professional development.

“The methodology is founded on research and integrates systems thinking to explore the issues, scenario planning to create possible futures and theory of change. It is based on the principle that if you want to teach people to solve problems and become agents of change, give them the tools to help them.

“The tools and methodology can be applied to almost any challenge which is complex or not. The methodology is underpinned by a fresh way of thinking, what we call NXthinking,” Hussain said.

NXplorers is being rolled-out in several countries including Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt, India, Oman, Australia and Kazakhstan and has also been piloted in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Singapore and Russia.

“Our goal is to impact more than one million young people around the world through participation in NXplorers by 2020,” Hussain said.

He said Shell and other related industries need talented people equipped with relevant STEM knowledge and skills, as science and technology are key to successful economic and social development of the society.

“As we take on the emerging grand challenges, including eradicating poverty, a lower carbon future, a liveable climate, and complex issues such as the food water and energy nexus, not only do we need the skills of all of our scientists and engineers, but we need all people to be able to think like scientists.

“We take this very seriously at Shell…we support education in several countries where we operate. In 2016, our education social investment spend was over US$25 million in 18 countries,” Hussain said.

He said Shell’s goal is to create shared value for society by delivering enduring social benefits and supporting host country aspirations towards a knowledge-based economy. This also provides access to opportunities for fence-line communities, help drive greater youth employment and create a pathway for social mobility.

In this era of change, Hussain advised, it is becoming more and more difficult to predict the nature of the jobs of tomorrow. Skills such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are becoming increasingly important.

A report by the World Economic Forum in 2016 confirms that employers are citing these as the top skills needed in the future.

“These higher level skills are so important as they underpin the ability to innovate and adapt. In many regions, it’s the lack of these skills that account for a significant proportion of skill-shortage vacancies.

“Our goal is to help young people develop these vital skills that STEM employers are increasingly demanding but often see lacking. We want to help equip them for the jobs of tomorrow and enable them to prepare for and adapt to a rapidly changing world.

“We believe the question posed to young people should not just be ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ but also ‘what problem do you want to solve,” Hussain said.

Add Math successes

Derrick Phillip, principal of East Mucurapo East Secondary School, described the marked improvement in his students via the Shell programme. He said, passes in disciplines such as Additional Maths and Physics were previously “unheard of.”

“It’s beyond our wildest imagination. Because of the programme students are encouraged to come to school and actually learn,” he said.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said STEM education infiltrates every aspect of life.

“A STEM-educated workforce is needed to stay competitive in today’s global society. Most inventions, creativity and innovations involve STEM and their development,” he said.

Categories: News

Still not ready to fight BOBOL, BRIBERY

Business Guardian - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:35

Where are we with operationalisation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act?

I get the impression that more than a year after the act was assented to, a lot of work still needs to be done.

Perhaps a more pointed question should be asked: why is it taking so long to get everything fully in place?

Remember that this very important legislation took more than five years and two political administrations before it became law. It was partially proclaimed during the tenure of the People’s Partnership in July 2015. Amendments were introduced to Parliament by the current People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, piloted through the Upper and Lower Houses by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, with final passage on March 3, 2017. The act was assented to by the President on March 13, 2017.

More than a year later this law—which in my view is a critical tool for eradicating corruption in the public sector—is still not fully implemented.

I happened to be part of an online exchange on the whole issue of corruption—in response to the focus of last week’s BG View—during which information about the current state of the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) came up. My sources tell me it is not yet fully functional, so we’re still moving at snail’s pace on this very crucial matter.

As one of his last official acts, outgoing President Anthony Carmona appointed the board of directors for the OPR. However, that was in March and it was only about a fortnight ago that advertisements were posted for staff.

That isn’t all. Operational regulations for the OPR still need to be finalised before submission for parliamentary approval and there are many administrative details still being sorted out: outfitting offices, installing telephones, printing letterheads and even purchasing vehicles.

If this proceeds at the normal pace of the public sector, it could be a few more months before systems are fully in place to put into effect this new, vitally important system of public procurement which is long overdue.

The thing is, when this legislation was making its way through Parliament, the signals from the Government was that it was an important piece of legislation which needed to go into force quickly.

When he would up the debate in the Senate, Imbert underscored the importance of appointing the regulator. In fact, he described that one step as “very, very important” in terms of the tenure of the person appointed to the position and the terms and conditions of engagement.

He told the Upper House: “We are virtually complete with the proposed compensation package and we need to fix this issue before the President can proceed to complete this exercise.

“This procurement legislation is very, very important. It was the subject of deliberations by this Parliament for five years actually, and in order to meet our deadline of implementation in 2017, we need to resolve this issue of establishing the term of the regulator at five years, rather than seven years.”

Based on the minister’s own words, the 2017 deadline for implementation is now long past. We are now almost halfway through 2018 and systems for a fully functional public procurement regime in this country not yet in place.

Am I the only one completely flabbergasted by the lack of urgency in dealing with this critical matter? Why can’t we be more serious about matter like this which could help put a stop to rampant corruption?

Before the recent passage of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act, such matters were governed by the 1961 legislation for establishment of the Central Tenders Board—introducing a procurement regime that is now archaic and terribly flawed.

I don’t think it is necessary to underscore the importance of public procurement which has to do with the purchase of goods, works or services by public institutions. Unless properly regulated, the process can be very vulnerable to integrity risks where undue influence, conflicts of interest and fraud can occur.

No need to remind law abiding citizens how much we have been hurt over many years by bobol and bribery involving well-placed public officers who found it all too easy to plunder the Treasury.

Over the years, there have been too many claims of bid-rigging, complaints about contracts being awarded on the basis of proposals, rather than tenders and other questionable arrangements, often resulting in millions of dollars in public funds being spend with little to show for it.

The act is the first opportunity in T&T for transparency in tendering and awarding of contracts. The hope is that will a fully functioning OPR, a long last there will be efficiency and accountability in the use of taxpayers’ money, which can have a positive effect on the economy.

Public procurement regulation, as valuable as it is for fight corruption considerations, is important for many other reasons, including creating a competitive process in the public sector which ensures we get best value for taxpayers’ money.

With this new system, a structured competitive process should ensure the country gets best quality at the lowest price in the purchasing of goods, services and works.

Now that the Central Tenders Board Act, Chap. 71:91 has been repealed and replaced with the new law, a new framework has been established, based on the principles of good governance, with accountability, transparency, integrity and value for money.

The act brings all bodies spending public money under a single regulatory framework covering all stages of the procurement process.

However, a critical aspect of the system is the OPR, headed by the procurement regulator and managed by a board, which is responsible for oversight and control. The OPR is empowered to conduct audits and periodic inspection of public bodies and issue directions to them.

There are severe penalties for procurement of goods, works or services or retention or disposal of public property that is not done in accordance with the Act shall be void and illegal. Breaches could result, on summary conviction, in imposition of a $100,000.

The OPR will have the power to investigate alleged breaches of the act and make reports to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The regulator is required to submit annual reports to Parliament, with information on the total number and value of contracts awarded by public bodies, the number of unfulfilled procurement contracts, and bodies that have failed to comply with the act.

This is the level of transparency and scrutiny needed in this country. It’s time to step up the pace and ensure on this very critical matter we don’t fall into the trap of delayed enforcement or failure to enforce.

Categories: News

Sat throws Hinduism backwards

Columnists - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:10

The position taken by the Maha Sabha to deny Nafisah Nakhid the opportunity to take up duties as an On-The-Job (OJT) teacher at Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College in St Augustine because of her hijab is unfortunate. The Maha Sabha holds the view that the school dress code would be violated. The Maha Sabha, which has rang the discrimination bell on the grounds of religion on numerous occasions over the years, now appears to have no sympathy or religious tolerance.

In the past, Hindus were the target of various forms of religious discrimination but that should not be an excuse for Hindus to discriminate against others. Only recently, the Hindu and Indian community observed the naked discrimination in the allocation of HDC houses in Real Springs, Valsayn, and the firing of Indians and Hindu lecturers at the University of T&T. To now carry out this act of denial to a young Muslim girl wishing only to learn how to teach is simply not acceptable in modern T&T.

The leadership of the Maha Sabha continues to be religious and social dinosaurs holding on to old prejudices and wishing to settle scores against others who no longer exist. The young Hindu is not attracted to this prehistoric thinking and wishes to distance themselves from it. Recently, young Hindus had to explain to friends and co-workers that they do not share support for child marriages as advocated by the Maha Sabha.

Thankfully in T&T, the Maha Sabha is not the only organization representing Hindus however, due to the institutional network of schools, mandirs, and media, the Maha Sabha will always command attention. If the Hindu community wishes to have views and expressions that are in line with a modern, progressive Hinduism then they have to effect that change themselves. Pundits, teachers, and other members of the Maha Sabha are too coward to have independent thought from the leadership, but it is time that they start becoming a little brave.

It is sad that in Indian Heritage Month, where we reflect on our Hindu, Muslim, and Christian indentured ancestors, that a Hindu leader would seek to discriminate against a Muslim.

I wish to inform the national community that the Maha Sabha does not represent all Hindus and the leadership of the Maha Sabha is not only a throwback to a bygone era, but a source of never-ending shame and embarrassment for a large cross section of the Hindu community.

No longer are we jahji bhai. Discrimination by any group is just wrong! This has the makings of a religious war, further dividing our already fragile society.

Pt Satyanand Maharaj

Spiritual Head,
Satya Anand Ashram
Temple of Truth and Bliss Aranguez

Categories: News

The Parable of talent

Columnists - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:06

Last weekend, Christian churches celebrated the feast of Pentecost or coming of the spirit. The word spirit is often associated with wisdom. Reflecting on that and perhaps moved by the spirit, I thought of the “Parable of the Talents” and its application to T&T.

Matthew 25:14-30 tells of a master who was leaving his house to travel and entrusted his property to his servants.

According to the abilities of each man, one servant received five talents, the second servant received two talents, and the third servant received one talent. The property entrusted to the three servants was worth 8 talents (a talent was a significant amount of money).

Upon returning home, after a long absence, the master asked his three servants for an account of the talents he entrusted to them. The first and the second servants explained that they each put their talents to work and had doubled the value of the property with which they were entrusted; each servant was rewarded. The third servant, however, had merely hidden his talent, burying it in the ground, and was punished by his master.

Government is about stewardship and accounting for the resources (talents) with which it has been entrusted. It must identify improvements which have resulted from conscious actions, much like the servants in the parable. The parable indicates the importance of a measurable scorecard with which to evaluate the performance of any administration in listing its achievements. Some initiatives take time to bear fruit and straddle administrations.

The IMF, S&P, Moody’s and the EIU all expect a modest improvement in economic growth in 2018 through 2022 on the strength of the expansion in gas supplies occasioned by increased drilling activity and investment at the well head.

All this in response to incentives given in 2014. It is significant that 2017 was a year of decline and that the IMF cut its growth forecast for 2018 by 90%, from 1.9% to .2%. Notwithstanding, the improved gas output projected to 2022, the IMF still forecasts continued declines in foreign exchange reserves declining to US$6 billion by 2022. This is a crucial statistic that should be used as a yardstick by itself.

Further, each organisation projects continuing fiscal deficits (expenditure greater than revenue) through 2021.

The construction initiatives included in the last three budget speeches have not borne fruit, nor can they revive the economy in time for the elections which will take place between now and 2020.

In that context, the MOUs announced during the Prime Minister’s visit to China take on special significance, as they are mainly construction related projects. No doubt they will come with Chinese financing with a promise for local content and technology transfer.

But construction activity and asset acquisition generate high demand for foreign exchange. The knock-on effect of expanded local demand and the need to repay the foreign financing, which will naturally follow these new projects, will reduce the foreign exchange reserves as they are not export generating.

We can, therefore, expect an increase in economic activity in the run-up to the 2020 election largely associated with construction. But this has no self-sustaining dynamic and has explicit and implicit negative foreign exchange effects. Foreign debts must be repaid.

This brings us back to the issue of long-term sustainability and non-energy growth. The growth in manufacturing projected by the Finance Minister is associated with output improvements in the petrochemical sector. But every other sector, non-energy manufacturing, yachting, the creative arts et al continue to decline.

To glibly speak of prudent management, turnaround, booming conditions is reckless folly. The management situation at all the state enterprises, including Petrotrin, is now made more difficult since the Government has changed the conversation.

The gas sector, therefore, remains the only credible source of growth. But increasing the output of gas in the long term is problematical. The GORTT cultivated a more significant relationship with Venezuela to access its gas reserves, even to the extent of compromising our foreign policy. But obtaining Venezuela’s gas became more remote and complicated when the US decided to impose sanctions on Venezuela on May 21st.

Currently, sanctions restrict commerce with energy, banking and other sectors by US citizens or corporations.

The probability that sanctions could be extended to any or all businesses that trade with or invest in Venezuela has increased the riskiness of the Venezuela gas initiative to all concerned.

We need an enlightened approach to determine policies to treat with what is obviously a deteriorating situation in Venezuela. We need to have a policy framework that will reconcile, inter alia, non-intervention and non-interference, energy diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, and critically, an immigration plan.

The parable of the talents is a story of measurable success as distinct from the political rhetoric which appeals to our basic instincts of fear and race.

Can we show that crime is reduced; social spending is better targeted; the Public Service more efficient; business is easier to do; health care is improved and the education system is producing more learned graduates? Even the Bible recognises the importance of leadership and management and measurable outcomes.

Mariano Browne

Categories: News

No way, Senator Mark

Columnists - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 01:03

Opposition Senator Wade Mark must know that the People’s National Movement (PNM) did not march “up and down the town” when former United National Congress (UNC) member Winston
Dookeran was appointed governor of the Central Bank under the Basdeo Panday-led government.

At no time did the PNM hit the road when Dr Bhoe Tewarie was appointed principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) under the same UNC government.

Both men were very active in the political arena and after their stints in the “independent and impartial roles” they returned to active politics in T&T.

Dookeran went on to be political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) and Tewarie is a sitting member of the Opposition as the representative for Caroni Central.

We must not forget how Herbert Volney entered the political fray after demitting his position as a High Court judge. His dramatic move was very controversial since it was the first time in the history of T&T that a High Court judge moved from the bench onto a political platform OVERNIGHT.

When these glaring and disgraceful political acts took place, citizens of our beloved country did not hear a murmur, not a sound from the so-called independent commentators who, today, parade up and down the country unjustly attacking every move by a PNM Government.

It was the second time that Senator Mark made that outrageous outburst in the Parliament. He was spared from any condemnation by the so-called independent commentators along with the editorial writers in the daily newspapers along with radio and television hosts who do not spare the PNM every morning in their respective programmes.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert was given a sound tongue-lashing for presenting a historical fact that these so-called independent commentators were politically aligned in the past but at no time did anyone see the blatant nepotism in the political appointments of Dookeran and Tewarie. In fact, Minister Imbert was responding to the MP for Princes Town who introduced the so-called independent commentators into the debate in the House of Representatives.

Unlike Senator Mark’s contribution when he maligned the chief elections office without prompting from any other member in the Senate.

In addition to these unsavoury appointments under the UNC, the brother of a sitting opposition member who served as member of the UNC cabinet is a high-profile member of the Judiciary while another who is the son of a former political leader of a party opposed to the PNM also sits in a very high position in the Judiciary.

The country must take note of the inconsistencies displayed by the so-called independent commentators, talk show hosts, and ghost editorial writers in dealing with sensitive national issues.

So when the history of T&T is written the facts would not change. The so-called independent commentators referred to by Minister Imbert cannot rewrite their respective roles as MPs, or losing candidates for political parties opposed to PNM and, more importantly, the fact that some worked for the Government when the PNM was in opposition.

Ashton Ford

Ashton Ford is the former General Secretary of the People’s National Movement

Categories: News

First Citizens up $0.22 to $35

Business - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:50

Overall market activity resulted from trading in nine securities of which six advanced, one declined and two traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 340,677 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $1,757,122.92. NCB Financial Group Limited was the volume leader with 192,500 shares changing hands for a value of $1,066,250, followed by JMMB Group Limited with a volume of 97,254 shares being traded for $170,194.50. Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited contributed 41,700 shares with a value of $332,803.92, while Calypso Macro Index Fund added 7,720 shares valued at $138,960.

First Citizens Bank Limited registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.22 to end the day at $35. Conversely, Calypso Macro Index Fund suffered the day’s sole decline, falling $2 to end the day at $18.

On the Mutual Fund Market 108,997 shares changed hands for a value of $2,183,061.70. Clico Investment Fund was the
most active security, with a volume of 101,277 shares valued at $2,044,101.70. It advanced by $0.04 to end at $20.18.

In Wednesday’s trading session the following reflect the movement of the TTSE Indices:

• The Composite Index advanced by 2.18 points (0.18 per cent) to close at 1,246.78.

• The All T&T Index advanced by 1.46 points (0.08 per cent) to close at 1,729.42.

• The Cross Listed Index advanced by 0.40 points (0.39 per cent) to close at 102.77

Categories: News

MovieTowne closer to listing on TTSE

Business - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:48

Background work has been completed in preparation for the listing of MovieTowne on the T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE).

Chairman Derek Chin, in confirming this yesterday, said a 30 per cent stake is likely to be offered to the public as the company seeks capital to soak up debt incurred in starting up its Guyana operations.

“I won’t sell the whole company I would sell maybe 30 per cent and retain the majority. It will help me to pay off some of the bank debt and minimise my interests,” he said.

Chin, who wants to build on the strength of the MovieTowne brand, said he is also exploring prospects for expanding the multiplex and entertainment chain into St Lucia and Panama, as well as entering some of the markets where Caribbean Cinemas has a presence.

He spoke at a session hosted by Youth Business T&T (YBTT) at the Carousel Room. MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, where he offered tips and advice for business success to close to 75 entrepreneurs and secondary school students.

Recounting his experience getting into the Guyana market, Chin said there had been a lot of red tape involved in getting things done.

“Sometimes in business we have to make things happen. They are not as business oriented as we are in Trinidad and Tobago. They are bogged down with a lot of bureaucracy,” he said.

Categories: News

UTC assets increase to $21.9b

Business - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:47

The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) has managed to achieve growth in a challenging investment climate, Ian Chinapoo, outgoing executive director, said yesterday.

“We ensured a positive overall growth in aggregate funds under management (FUM), competitive returns, maintained a robust financial position and provided a platform for positioning the future growth of UTC,” he told unit holders at the UTC’s 36th Annual General Meeting at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain.

It was Chinapoo’s last address as UTC executive director as he is leaving to take up a position with another company. On June 1, Nigel Edwards will assume the position.

Chinapoo said care had been taken with UTC’s brand, so they maintained their dominance in the market.

“As unit holders, you should be proud of the fact that homegrown UTC is among the top in brand awareness in the financial services sector and number one in corporate image,” he said.

He told unit holders that four of the UTC’s seven funds posted higher net returns in 2017 compared to the previous year. The flagship Growth and Income Fund generated a net return of 5.4 per cent—more than double the return of 2016. There was a 1.5 percent increase in funds under management to $21.9 billion.

Total revenue for the year was $1.1 billion and the UTC’s customer base grew by 1.1 per cent from about 603,000 to 609,000 unit holders. Total assets increased by $197.6 million to $21.9 billion.

Chinapoo attributed these results to an increase in “prudent impairments provisions” in a challenging year for the T&T economy.

“We will continue to explore opportunities that will improve returns on your investments and leverage our longevity as the country’s leading mutual fund company,” he said.

During the year, the UTC launched three new agencies at Heartland Plaza, Chaguanas, C3 Centre, San Fernando and Canaan, Tobago.

UTC Chairman Justice Rolston Nelson said legislative changes are necessary for the UTC to optimise its investments in a competitive environment because the landscape has changed significantly.

“It is our intention to work towards transforming the Act, allowing us to continue to adapt as an independent financial institution,” he said.

Categories: News

Moody’s disagrees with Imbert on deficit

Business - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:45

Rating agency Moody’s disagrees with Finance Minister Colm Imbert claim of a 2.5 per cent narrowing of the fiscal deficit against GDP this year. It is forecasting a wider 3.5 per cent deficit and sees downside risks to Government’s revised revenue targets announced in the mid-year review.

As the country counts down to the 2020 election, the agency is also forecasting that Government will not get the parliamentary majority required for passage of the Property Tax Act and the Revenue Authority which will prevent a more significant increase in non energy revenue.

In its analysis of the mid-year review which was released yesterday, Moody’s said while Government said it expects the fiscal deficit to narrow to $4.2 billion or 2.5 per cent of GDP for the year ending September 30, its forecast is for a “slightly wider fiscal deficit of around 3.5 per cent of GDP,” which is still “substantially narrower than the 8.5 per cent deficit for last fiscal year.

Based on this nominal growth forecast, Moody’s said a fiscal deficit of that size will allow government debt to remain broadly stable at 63 per cent over GDP for the near to medium term. Beyond 2018, it expects that slow implementation of fiscal reforms to prevent further narrowing of deficits.

It noted that while higher energy, non-energy tax revenue and lower capital expenditure will narrow the deficit, Government revised down its projections for total revenue collection in 2018 because of lower asset sales. However, it expects to collect more revenue from the energy and non-energy sectors.

Government expects energy sector revenue to increase to close to eight per cent of GDP. Moody’s said this is because of higher oil prices which triggers mandatory payment of the Supplemental Petroleum Tax when oil prices cross US$50 a barrel. For the first six months of the fiscal year oil prices averaged US$59 a barrel.

Increased gas production, according to Moody’s, will support higher revenue collection from the energy sector. With full year production at Juniper in 2018 and prospects for gas production at Shell’s Starfish field to start in the second half of this year, production could reach 3.8 billion standard cubic feet a day by the end of 2018.

Moody’s said revenue from royalties will increase by about $2 billion, compared to the previous fiscal year.

In terms of the non-energy sector, corporation tax revenue increased by more than half a billion dollars in the first half of fiscal 2018 because of the increase from 25 to 30 per cent. Moody’s said this “should provide an additional boost to tax revenue going forward.”

However, the rating agency said it sees downside risks to Government’s revised budget, particularly as it relates to asset sales. While Government expects to raise $4 billion from the Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the National Investment Fund, Moody’s is not as optimistic.

It also sees downside risks to non-energy related tax revenue and expects only a “very gradual recovery in the non-energy sector” as well ass “lower tax collection from households and from the value added tax.”

Categories: News

‘Don’t jail my client for killing homeless man’

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:40

A Vistabella man who in a fit of rage killed a homeless man after the man threatened his wife and child with a bottle should be spared a prison sentence.

This is the position of both the defence and State attorneys in the matter of Christopher Henry who pleaded guilty to the offence of manslaughter. The incident took place almost 17 years ago.

However, Henry’s faith rests solely in the hands of Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas who will give his decision on June 12, in the San Fernando Second Criminal Court.

In his mitigation plea yesterday, attorney Subhas Panday submitted that Henry, then a street vendor on Coffee Street, San Fernando, had minutes before given the homeless man, identified as David Duncan, a cigarette and some money.

Panday said Henry “flew in a fit of rage” when minutes later his wife told him that Duncan had threatened her and their two-year-old daughter with a bottle on July 19, 2001.

Panday said there was no premeditation as Henry picked up the piece of wood while walking down the street. Henry caught up with Duncan on the corner of Lord Street near Republic Bank carpark.

He struck Duncan to his arm, shoulder and legs but Panday said it was never his client’s intention to kill the man. Duncan died from the injuries caused by the nails which were protruding from the piece of wood.

Panday asked the court to consider that Duncan had a mental illness, a history of violence and a criminal record.

“He would attack and harass everybody all the time,” said Panday, who added, “any man will make every effort to protect his wife and two-year-old child.”

Panday said Henry, 45, now a plumber, was a good man, father and husband. The judge interjected, “Sometimes evil come looking for you when you are minding your own business.”

The defence attorney submitted nine testimonials, including one from a police officer and a spiritual baptist church attesting to his client’s good character.

Agreeing with the defence, State attorney Trevor Jones said, “It is one of those rare cases where a non-custodial sentence is justifiable. And this is not because the deceased was a vagrant.”

Jones said the State’s investigation confirmed that the homeless man had threatened members of the public and was mentally ill. Jones said Henry has no other criminal matters, except for a marijuana conviction.

The judge, however, rejected a request by Panday to allow Henry to remain on bail pending the sentencing hearing. Henry was remanded into custody last Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to the offence.

Categories: News

Bringing box carts back to life

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:38

Danny Thomas spent his boyhood days filling water on wooden box carts and performing stunts in them with his friends but without the proper guidance, he was soon lured into a life of crime which eventually led to his imprisonment.

Now 12 years after leaving prison, Thomas, now 44, has returned to his childhood past time but instead of riding the box carts, he is now designing, building and selling them to young people.

Using used wheel bearings and discarded pieces of wood, Thomas fashions the box carts in a matter of minutes. He uses paint donated to him to create abstract designs and sells the carts for $200 to $300 depending on the size.

Thomas stacks the carts at the corner of Priam Street, Diamond Village, where many people gather to socialise on afternoons.

Having faced a difficult life in prison for possession of drugs, possession of arms and ammunition, kidnapping and larceny, Thomas said he now uses his time to help others understand the dangers of crime.

“My motivation is to bring the youths back to the old time days. Nowadays, its Facebook and tablet. People don’t want to enjoy the outdoors. They want to stay inside and play games. I met a woman from Penal who told me that my box carts brought back the old time memories to her. She grew up pulling cane and filling water. She bought two box carts from me and she gave it to her pupils. She motivated me to sell more carts,” Thomas said. 

He complained that Diamond Village had been overcome with drugs and he thinks his option to offer young people a childhood adventure may set children on the right path.

“I did not have a good father and I went astray but I brought back my life in order. I grew up selling drugs, robbing people. I do all kinds of things in my life. That is not a life to live because when you selling the drugs and end up in jail, other people outside living up a nice life and you stuck in there,” Thomas said.

He said he now earns $700 a week selling box carts. So inspired are his neighbours by his transformation that they offer the materials for him to work free of charge.

Thomas said gets the wheel bearings from a nearby garage. For most of the day, he could be seen hammering the carts into shape.

“I not charging them plenty. It have certain people begging me to do this. I getting paint and certain things to bring back these things. It is rewarding work,” Thomas said.

He added that his girlfriend has been his motivation as well. Anyone interested in Thomas’ box carts can call contact him at 353-4299.

Categories: News

Fewer criminal cases against children—TTPS

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:31

There has been a drastic reduction in the number of cases involving children charged with serious criminal offences, according to the Child Protection Unit of the T&T Police Service.

According to the most recent statistics, for the period January 1 to May 19, there have been 53 child offenders, as compared to 96 for the same period last year.

This signals, according to CPU’s Sgt Michelle Lewis, a 45 per cent reduction.

Lewis was speaking at the TTPS’ weekly media briefing which was held yesterday at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.

The TTPS’ goal is to implement a Booking Centre in each of the nine police divisions. In March, Booking Centres at the Maracas/St Joseph Police Station and Oropouche and Brasso Police Stations became operational.

These centres service the Port-of-Spain Juvenile Court Project/Children’s Court for matters along the East-West corridor and the Fyzabad Juvenile Court Project/Children’s Court for matters along in Central, South and South Western areas respectively.

Booking Centres will soon be established at the Maraval, Belmont, Gasparillo and Moruga Police Stations.

Lewis, in her statement, disclosed that in 53 per cent of matters the children were at the Maracas/St Joseph Booking Centre for various offences. She added that Oropouche accounted for 32 per cent of the offenders and 11 per cent at Brasso.

“The prevalent offences being robbery, possession of firearm and ammunition,” Lewis said.

There has also been a “slight decrease” of three per cent in crimes committed against children when compared to the corresponding period in 2017. The figure moved from 259 to 252.

Categories: News

Coast Guard fail to find baby in pond

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:30

Ste Madeleine residents gathered anxiously at the Usine Pond to see if the horrible story of a baby being dumped in the water was true yesterday, but after two hours of searching Coast Guard divers found nothing.

Southern Division police said the search was called off after the pond and its bank yielded no signs of a body. However, Ste Madeleine officers are expected to keep an eye out in the coming days for any signs of a body.

From early yesterday, labourers were cutting the grass at the banks of the pond to assist in the search while officers scoured the bank. They told the T&T Guardian they were not sure whether a baby was thrown into the pond, but had no choice but to check it out. By midday, the Coast Guard divers joined the search, reaching greater depths than on Tuesday night

Initial reports on Tuesday night stated a woman was seen walking into the dirt road alongside the pond with a baby in her arms. Minutes later, she returned to the Manahambre Road without the baby and left in a gold Nissan Almera.

However, councillor for Corinth/Cedar Hill, Shawn Premchand, said he contacted the police after hearing a baby’s cry. Premchand and members of the Corinth/Cedar Hill Coordinating Committee were planting jhandis along the wall of the pond in preparation for their Indian Arrival Day celebrations next Wednesday. He said they heard a woman scream and shortly after, saw an Afro-Trinidadian woman in a black dress walk to the roadside and leave in a car heading toward San Fernando. He said around 7.30 pm, after the woman left, they heard a child crying and went in search. However, when no child was found they contacted the police, who responded along with divers from the Fire Service.

He lamented that the picturesque pond that one supplied the now-defunct Ste Madeleine Sugar Factory was now a disposal site for murder victims. Last April, the decomposing corpse of David Conlisse, of Sangre Grande, was found wrapped in linoleum. In January, PH taxi driver Richard Beharry, 24, was shot and killed and his body left in the backseat of a white Nissan AD Wagon that was partially submerged in the pond.

Last December, Canadian citizen Vishnu Narine was shot dead and dumped at the side of the pond.

Categories: News

Govt urged to implement sexual harassment policy

News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 00:28

Industrial Court president Debra Thomas-Felix yesterday urged Government to establish legislation to define sexual harassment and introduce policies in the workplace to deal with inappropriate behaviour.

Such a move, she said would offer support to victims of sexual harassment.

Thomas-Felix put forward the suggestion while addressing a Sexual Harassment in the World of Work symposium hosted by the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s.

Stating that sexual harassment in the workplace has been a relevant and critical topic, Thomas-Felix acknowledged that subtle sexual innuendoes had become part of our natural conversation.

Even our songs, she said, have been riddled with sexual innuendos, as she drew reference to the punchline of three calypsoes—Woman doh like soft man; I want to wine on something; and A deputy is essential to keep your living vital,” to emphasise her point.

When behaviour is driven by culture, Thomas-Felix said it is difficult for some to discern boundaries and have a calm discourse on the issue.

However, she stated that T&T continues to remain a conservative society when addressing any issue that pivots on sex and gender.

While our ability to respond to sexual harassment in the workplace was stymied by the lack of coherent workplace policy guidelines, Thomas-Felix recommended that such guidelines be crafted with input from all partners at work and supported by a range of administrative mechanisms and relevant legislative instruments.

“One of the challenges, inherent of treating with sexual harassment in the workplace has been to adequately define it. To date, there exists no single universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes inappropriate and prohibited behaviour.”

She said Barbados had recently enacted the Employment Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017 which defined inappropriate conduct in the workplace and provided that each employer has a clear written policy statement against sexual harassment.

“As you are aware there is no legislation in T&T which addresses the issue…and therefore there is no legal definition to guide employers and the workforce in this country on what conduct is acceptable.”

Notwithstanding, Thomas-Felix said sexual harassment causes harm to the victim and may constitute a health and safety problem.

“This is a highly-complex issue that has proven elusive for policy makers to come to grips with because it occupies the thorny intersection between sex, gender and power.”

As managers, employers and legislators, she said, we are not sure what inappropriate conduct is, its indicators, and what guidelines should be developed to deter sexual harassment.

“In my view, central to tackling the issue is accepting that sexual harassment in the workplace is inextricably linked to the balance of power, where that power resides and the abuse of that power,” she said.

Thomas-Felix said while the victim feels powerless, isolated and afraid to speak out when faced with the risk of losing her/his job, the impact extends beyond the workplace.

Categories: News


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