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Met Service: More bad weather coming

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:42

Still reeling from recent widespread flooding, the nation is being warned about more bad weather and possible flash flooding, a tropical system, which has the potential to form into a tropical storm, approaches.

Meteorologist Stefan Dixon from the Meteorologist Service (TTMS) said there was a 20 per cent chance of the tropical wave forming into a storm.

As a consequence, he said the public can expect possible thundershowers and flash flooding today and tomorrow.

“It is unlikely it will become a storm before it passes through the Caribbean, but we are still expecting showers and possible thundershowers,” he said.

Dixon said the weather may not be worse than what was recently experienced, but because the soil is already saturated not much rainfall will cause flash flooding.”

Information coming from the TTMS stated that the tropical wave is moving from the east and are expected to affect the islands north of T&T.

“There is a tropical wave near 49-51W, which currently has a 20 per cent chance of formation into a tropical storm over the next 48 hours and is moving towards W-NW,” TTMS advised on its Facebook page.

It stated that periods of showers/thunderstorm activity were expected over T&T today and tomorrow.

The public was advised that street flash flooding and gusty winds may occur.

However, Dixon said TTMS will continue to monitor the weather pattern and give frequent updates if there were any developments.

He advised members of the public to continue to monitor the Met’s Service website and Facebook page.

Torrential rainfall earlier this week resulted in flooding across the country, wreaking havoc, particularly in areas in North and Central Trinidad.

Residents and commuters were stranded while roads were damaged.

During the heavy downpour on Monday, a Caparo family escaped serious injury when their home fell apart.

Categories: News

La Puerta residents plead for more police patrols

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:39

Residents of La Puerta, Diego Martin are calling on frequent police patrols in the area in a bid to restore a sense of security following Wednesday’s double murder where David Charles and Kurt “Ratty” Smith were gunned down by men pretending to be police officers.

Speaking with Guardian Media yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre, a resident and close associate of Smith, claimed that the same vehicle used by the killers, a white Hyundai Tucson, was seen in the area the night before the murder.

The resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also claimed that the occupants of the vehicle were seen bundling a man into the vehicle close to Four Roads. However, police officers, when contacted said they received no report.

“Since Birdman get killed (referring to Smith’s brother Curtis, who was killed last year) people getting killed like flies, for no reason and we are fed up of the unnecessary bloodshed,” the resident said.

“If there are real police out there who care about the black man, let them come in and help us…save our lives from the bullets,” the resident said.

A close relative of Charles said that he was currently organising a peace walk in La Puerta.

On Wednesday, at about 8.35 am Charles, who was driving a vehicle, had just entered a driveway when a white SUV, which was said to be outfitted with blue flashing lights and a siren, stopped behind.

Two men, wearing khaki suits and bullet-proof vests, and armed with assault rifles, alighted the SUV and dragged Charles out of the car to the SUV where they shot him several times.

Smith, who was standing near Riverside Drive, a short distance away, was also shot. Smith was taken to the St James Infirmary where he died while undergoing treatment.

CCTV footage showed the men getting into the SUV after the shooting and reversing over Charles’ body before speeding off.

No one has been arrested for the double murder. Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

Family doctor killed during robbery

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:35

The murder of 79-year-old family doctor during an armed robbery sent shock waves in the eastern town of Sangre Grande yesterday.

Dr Sinanan Lutchman, of Guaico Tamana Road, succumbed to a gunshot injury about 30 minutes after he was shot.

The father of one was at his Paul Street office around 2 pm when two men, wearing bandannas, entered the doctor’s office.

Armed with guns, they demanded the doctor hand over cash and his licenced firearm.

He was shot in the forehead and fell to the ground.

The bandits tied up the doctor’s common-law wife, who works as the receptionist, and demanded money. They took the cash and the doctor’s firearm and ran out of the building. They escaped by running along Paul Street.

Employees from a nearby business heard the woman’s screams and alerted the police.

Police officers from Sangre Grande CID and Crime Patrol Unit responded and took the injured doctor to the Sangre Grande District Hospital. He succumbed to his injuries during emergency treatment.

As news spread of the incident, people gathered outside the doctor’s office. Many commented that Lutchman was a friendly and caring doctor and should not have to die in such a brutal way.

Former patients were crying and said Lutchman was the only doctor who will assist the poor when they visited his office and did not have the money.

He was also the doctor for the Home for the Aged at Green Acres, Foster Road, Sangre Grande. When the caretaker of the home heard that the doctor was killed, she wept and recalled only on Sunday he was making jokes with the residents there.

The doctor’s son, who did not disclose his name, said he had visited his father’s office earlier where he dropped off some grapes and within an hour he received a phone call informing him that his father was shot.

He said he could not believe the news. At the hospital, the son wept and questioned why the bandits had to kill his father.

“He was kind, generous and loving to people, he never made himself above his patients, he always reached their level,” he said.

President of Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce, Ricardo Mohammed told Guardian Media that Lutchman “was a warm, generous man, who at times gave free medical check-up to patients. His motive was to assist the sick and make them feel well.”

Businesswoman Indra Sinanan-Ojah Maharaj said the chamber is going to pass a motion to prevent people from wearing hats and caps when entering business places in Sangre Grande.

She recalled that Lutchman sold chicken to pursue his studies and always said it was better to work hard and earn an honest day’s pay.

“Some people now only want to collect money with the use of a firearm,” she said.

The body of Lutchman will be taken to the Forensic Science Centre, St James today for an autopsy.

Investigators are reviewing CCTV footage from nearby buildings which they hope can help identify the killers.

Officers from Homicide Bureau, Region 2, Arouca is continuing investigation.

Visiting the scene were ASP Etienne, Cpl Hanooman, PCs Toussaint, Bhaggan, Mahabir, WPC Adolphus and Insp Lawrence and other officers from Homicide Bureau.

RALPH BANWARIE
 

Categories: News

Sari protesters demand apology from PM

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:30

“Be a man, respect women!”

That placard-borne message and others conveyed the feelings of protesters outside of the Prime Minister’s office yesterday, demanding an apology from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Stuart Young for the PNM’s controversial “sari” skit.

The skit at last weekend’s PNM’s Family Day, depicting a woman’s yellow sari being undone by men dressed as gorillas, caused a firestorm of negative sentiment, though Government rejected the criticism. Young said it was a “lil bit of fun.” Rowley claimed people were “hell-bent” on creating racial and religions tensions.

Yesterday protesters reinforced their concerns, calling for an apology, outside of Rowley’s St Clair office. However, he was at the Diplomatic Centre for the weekly Cabinet meeting. At the height of the protest, members yelled, “Go, Rowley go!”

The group, mainly from UNC constituencies, was dominated by women in yellow saris and other traditional East Indian wear. Also present was Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, UNC MPs, senators, executive members and Muslims in hijabs.

Protesters’ placards voiced their views: “100 per cent Pissed!” “Say no to Rape!” “Don’t be an Imps” “Rape isn’t funny,” “Chase dem like Hinds!” “Imps—Rowley, Faris, Stuart,” “I’m Fed Up—Rowley doesn’t care.”

Persad-Bissessar, speaking outside of the OPM office she once occupied, said, “This (skit) isn’t a racist issue. It’s action promoting violence against women, abuse of black males—stereotyping them as apes—and it has to do with Indians. Why a sari? Why yellow?”

Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, leading protesters said, “I don’t think they understand how sacred the sari is—it’s symbolic. Denuding a woman is akin to sexual abuse and heinous crime—it’s not a ‘lil bit of fun’. We wouldn’t stoop to degrade another community like this.”

“We’re not willing to let this pass. Should we allow ourselves to be treated like second class citizens. Should the sacred wear of our mothers, daughters, sisters be debased and degraded like this? How can you have a ‘lil fun’ at an entire community’s expense? By having ‘fun’ at our expense, you’re telling us we have no value. We have to value ourselves and let them know we do.”

“When leaders refuse to acknowledge the plight of their people, then people must come to their leaders—we must let them know this won’t work.”

The group delivered a letter to the PM’s office seeking an apology. It noted the skit offended many as it was seen as simulation of violence against women, mockery of Hinduism and depiction of political violence—plus, Young’s dismissal compounded Government’s insensitivity on the matter.

The letter warned, “Government’s hostile, belligerent and intractable position in this issue only contributes to stoking fires of division. It does no good to the PNM to attempt to victimise the victim further by labelling legitimate concerns as ‘foolish’ or ‘racial.’”

Hindu group representative Radica Balkaran added, somewhat emotionally that the sari represents a woman’s material, physical and spiritual profile, “If you disrobe her of this garment, it’s not just about a piece of cloth, you’re stripping the person of all of these aspects of her life and her dignity. This isn’t something to play with—no excuse can apologise for that. Dr Rowley has to apologise to the womenfolk.”

Kamla slams Stuart’s insensitive remark

Persad-Bissessar spoke against the skit’s aspects which stereotyped black males.

“For hundreds of years black males were stereotyped as apes, simians, monkeys, gorillas —aggressors. The PNM’s skit continued this portrayal of years of colonial stereotyping.”

Also offensive to the Indian community, particularly Hindu women, she said, “It’s a blatant portrayal of violent assault against women. But they can unwrap the sari and it’ll never end—women will stand up.”

Asking if Young’s statements meant it was alright to terrorise women or undress and assault them, Persad-Bissessar added, “I was prepared to give the new Police Commissioner and National Security Minister a ‘bligh,’ but after the Minister’s first statement (on this), I don’t think he can take care of people’s safety and security.”

“It’s frightening when your new Security Minister’s first major statement is to condemn and accept abuse of women as ‘fun’. I wonder if what happened to (PNM’s Fitzgerald) Hinds in Beetham will be seen as ‘fun’ also?” she asked.

While Persad-Bissessar condemned the assault on any MP, she said the PNM was “reaping what it sowed.”

She added Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha general secretary Satnarayn Maharaj was entitled to his position on the issue which she disagreed with, “ The skit is about portrayal of assault and abuse of women- not just about a sari.” Maharaj had said he did not think the skit was offensive.

Persad-Bissessar said Government —which didn’t hold the usual weekly media briefing yesterday— “ran” from the media.

Yesterday’s protest was monitored by a drone overhead operated by police on the ground.

Uniformed and plainclothes police were also present.

One male protester, challenged Rowley to come outside and face protesters, “You’s a coward!” he yelled at OPM windows where some staffers peered at protesters from upper floors.

Categories: News

Lawyers: Enough evidence to trigger impeachment of CJ

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:28

Senior attorneys are suggesting that there is enough evidence for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to trigger impeachment proceedings for Chief Justice Ivor Archie even before the Law Association completes its review of a report into the matter.

They made their comments in response to yesterday’s judgment from the Privy Council, which cleared the way for the association to resume and complete its investigation.

The association’s investigation deals with whether the allegations against Archie are sufficient for it to recommend that Rowley institute the impeachment proceedings under Section 137 of the Constitution. After the investigation is completed, the association will meet with its members at a Special General Meeting, to decide whether to forward the complaints against Archie to Rowley.

In responses issued yesterday, attorneys Israel Khan, SC, and Kelvin Ramkissoon both noted that in the judgment, the five Law Lords stated that the Court of Appeal had found that the allegations “had such a negative impact on the Office of the Chief Justice and the Judiciary that they threatened to undermine the administration of justice and rule of law”.

Khan said: “And it is my considered opinion that that is sufficient for the honourable Prime Minister to recommend to the President under section 137 to set up a commission to determine whether to substantiate if these allegations are true.”

Ramkisson expressed similar sentiments.

“The fact that the Privy Council ruled on the propriety of the Law Association’s investigation and process on the basis of sworn evidence before it (affidavits) is sufficient to conclude that the allegations have passed the seriousness test and are not based on frivolity,” Ramkissoon said, as he suggested that Rowley could operate independently of the association.

“He (Rowley) owes a duty to the administration of justice to do so. It allows the Chief Justice the full spectrum of natural justice and the allegations to be proved or disproved,” he added.

Speaking on television station CNC3’s Morning Brew programme before the judgment was delivered yesterday, Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan suggested that the association was duty bound to probe the allegations.

“Had the Law Association not embarked on this examination, a criticism could have been levelled at them, that they were in dereliction of duty,” Sinanan said, as he noted that the association has a duty to promote democracy and the development of justice.

However, he noted that the investigation may result in Archie being cleared of any wrongdoing.

“It may very well be that when they conclude their investigation, the Chief Justice is exonerated. All these allegations which had been bandied about in the press, and you know the press tends to sensationalise things sometimes, could be shown to be untrue or unmerited,” Sinanan said.

Although he described the Judiciary as battle-scarred, Sinanan still expressed hope that it may salvage its reputation.

“I think there are committed male and female judicial officers who see their role as dispensing justice and helping to build the democracy,” Sinanan said.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also gave credit to the Law Association’s victory yesterday and maintained Section 137 of the Constitution - regarding the process towards impeachment - should be triggered.

Categories: News

Privy Council rules against Chief Justice

News - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:26

The Law Association has been given the all clear to complete its investigation into the veracity of misconduct allegations levelled against embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

Delivering a 15-page judgment yesterday, five Law Lords of the United Kingdom-based Privy Council dismissed a lawsuit from Archie challenging the association’s jurisdiction to conduct the inquiry.

The decision means that the association can now hold a special general meeting of its members to consider a report into the allegations and decide if they are sufficient to refer them to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to invoke impeachment proceedings under Section 137 of the Constitution.

Regardless of the eventual decision of the association’s membership, the final decision still rests with Rowley, as he has the sole discretion to decide whether to make the recommendation to the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate the allegations.

In a press release issued shortly after the judgment was published on the court’s website, yesterday, Archie still sought to justify his decision to file the lawsuit against the Law Association, earlier this year.

“I had instructed that these proceedings be brought as a last resort and only when the Law Association declared that they could hold a member of the Judiciary “to account”. That I considered to be a threat of grave concern and contrary to the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law,” Archie said.

Although the Privy Council rejected all the complaints raised by the Chief Justice in the appeal, Archie appeared to not want to concede defeat as he highlighted portions of the judgment, in which the court urged the association to be cautious in disseminating its final report.

“I welcome these strong statements of principle and good sense, It is my hope that I will not need in the future to have recourse to the courts to establish my rights,” Archie said.

In contrast, the association, in its release, maintained that Archie’s claim was misconceived as it had handled the entire situation correctly.

“As the association has maintained all along, it has no disciplinary power over the Chief Justice and he is not bound to participate in the association’s investigation. But it is within the association’s statutory mandate to investigate serious allegations against any member of the Judiciary which may undermine the administration of justice and rule of law,” the release stated.

The association noted that as a result of the decision, an injunction, which was granted to Archie pending the appeal, was automatically discharged.

It stated that it would not make any further statements until the meeting, to discuss the investigation with its members, is called.

In his lawsuit, Archie’s lawyers contended that the association’s investigation mimicked the Section 137 procedure.

President of the UK Supreme Court, Baroness Brenda Hale, who chaired the panel and wrote the judgment, disagreed.

“The short answer to all these points is that the association is in no position to make findings of fact which are in any way binding upon the Chief Justice or upon any tribunal which might be established under Section 137,” she said.

She also suggested that the association was the ideal party to make such a recommendation to the prime minister.

“Indeed, as a body of lawyers, who have so far proceeded with considerable caution, they might be thought better able to conduct such an investigation and present its conclusions in a responsible way than many others,” she said.

However, she warned the association of potential impact of disseminating the findings of fact in its report.

“If the association’s conclusions on the facts are published, there would be widespread media coverage and pressure on the Chief Justice to resign, thus undermining the very protection which the Section 137 process is designed to give him,” Hale added.

Hale and her colleagues also refused to accept Archie’s allegations that the association was biased as it passed a motion of no-confidence against him and members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) over their handling of the short-lived judicial appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, last year.

They noted that High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo, who initially approved the lawsuit, and the Court of Appeal, which later reversed Kangaloo’s decision, both agreed that it (the association) is not biased.

“The local courts in T&T are far better placed that is this Board to consider what the fair-minded and informed observer in T&T would make of the matters complained of. It is not for this Board to disagree,” Hale said.

Archie was represented by Philip Havers, QC, John Jeremie, SC, Ian Benjamin, SC, Kerwyn Garcia and Hannah Noyce. The association was represented by Christopher Hamel-Smith, SC, Jason Mootoo, Rishi Dass and Alvin Pariagsingh.

More info

The controversy surrounding Archie arose late last year in a series of newspaper reports which accused Archie of attempting to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which his friend and convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson worked.

Archie was also accused of attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for Johnson, who has been convicted of fraud, and several other people.

Archie only responded to the allegations once, as he denied discussing judges’ security but admitted to suggesting persons for HDC housing. Late last year, Johnson fled to the United Kingdom after he was wounded at a shooting at his home.

Archie was also linked to convicted fraudster Kern Romero, who was accused of using his alleged friendship with Archie to defraud people. Romero died in hospital, earlier this year.

In November last year, the Council of the Law Association called on Archie to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges’ security with Johnson.

The association’s council then appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and sought the legal advice of two eminent Queen’s Counsel to determine if the allegations are sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under S137 of the Constitution.

Under the section, the President appoints a tribunal after misconduct allegations against a CJ or judge are referred by the Prime Minister.

The tribunal, which includes a chairman and at least two other members, all with appellate judicial experience in Commonwealth jurisdictions, will then investigate. The tribunal reports to the Privy Council, which then gives the President recommendations on what action, if any, should be taken.

Archie had repeatedly refused the association’s request to directly respond to the allegations.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and members of his Government have said that they are observing the situation but would and could not intervene.

Several of Archie’s judicial colleagues have called upon him to address the allegations publicly

Categories: News

Archie loses LATT lawsuit in Privy Council

News - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:50

Chief Justice Ivor Archie has lost his appeal challenging the Law Association's investigation into misconduct allegations against him. 

Five Law Lords of the Privy Council this morning delivered a 15-page judgment, in which they rejected all the grounds raised by Archie.

The judgment was not delivered in open court at the United Kingdom's Supreme Court in London but was posted on the court's website at 10 am, this morning. 

As is customary with Privy Council appeals, Archie's attorneys and those for the Law Association were informed of the outcome yesterday evening.

The decision now clears the way for the association to call a meeting of its membership to discuss its investigation into the allegations and the legal advice on whether the allegations are sufficient to refer to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to trigger impeachment proceedings under S137 of the Constitution. 

Archie filed the lawsuit in March days before the association was due to hold an extraordinary meeting on the issue. High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo initially ruled that the investigation fell outside of the association's statutory remit but her decision was subsequently reversed by three of Archie's colleagues in the Court of Appeal. 

In the judgment, the Privy Council disagreed with Archie, that the association's probe mimicked the constitution process for investigating misconduct allegations against a judge. 

The judges ruled that the association's investigation did not have any binding effect and could only result in a referral to the Prime Minister, who then has a discretion on how to treat with it. 

The court also rejected Archie's claimed that the association was biased in its investigation. It pointed out that Kangaloo and the Court of Appeal both did not think so and said that they were best placed to make such a determination. 

The controversy surrounding Archie arose late last year in a series of newspaper reports which accused Archie of attempting to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which his friend and convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson worked.

Archie was also accused of attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for Johnson, who has been convicted of fraud.

Archie only responded to the allegations once, as he denied discussing judges' security but admitted to suggesting persons for HDC housing.

Archie was also represented by Phillip Havers, QC, John Jeremie, SC, Ian Benjamin, SC, and Kerwyn Garcia. The association was also represented by Christopher Hamel-Smith, SC, Jason Mootoo, Rishi Dass and Alvin Pariagsingh.

Categories: News

The EITI: A necessary health check on systems

Business Guardian - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 05:15

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) gauges just how effective the country is at managing and accounting for its oil, gas and mining sector revenue. In this regard, the initiative can be viewed as a health check on the country’s revenue collection and audit and assurance systems. While the EITI’s main pillar is reconciling oil, gas and mining company payments against government receipts, importantly, the initiative also identifies institutional imperfections and recommends steps to correct these faults.

In the latest EITI Report, the independent administrator/auditor, BDO Trinity Ltd, points out several areas for improvement from the need to better monitor production sharing contract obligations/payments to better regulation of the mining sector. The concrete recommendations made by the independent administrator/auditor can help improve how much money the country earns from the extractive sectors as well as how effectively the state manages data and provides assurance.

Some of these recommendations include:

1 Production sharing contract monitoring:

The auditor highlighted the need for greater monitoring of amounts due and paid from production sharing contracts (PSCs) to Government. The auditor outlined several gaps in the reporting system that have implications on the MEEI’s ability to collect monies due. For example, the report generated by the MEEI is not cumulative; therefore, users cannot see the amounts due before the current year, neither all amounts due under PSCs (eg government’s profit share and transfer/assignment fees).

The T&T EITI Report 2016 also reported that, in January 2018, there were 238 expenditure audits and 121 revenue audits due but not yet carried out/completed. It is important to note that during the period from October 2016 to September 2017, the PSC audit unit commenced 113 new expenditure audits and concluded 34 expenditure audits from previous fiscal years. The unit started 25 revenue audits in the same period. In addition to proposing ways to improve the system of reporting PSC payments, the auditor also recommends that the MEEI should urgently review prior periods of PSC payments and review cases of unpaid transfer/assignment fees so that the necessary actions can be taken to collect monies due.

2 Audit and assurance:

Currently, due to confidentiality restrictions in the Income Tax Act, the Auditor General is unable to review the revenue records of the Board of Inland Revenue. The auditor recommended that government promotes legislative change to remove restrictions on disclosure of information to the auditor general.

The Constitution grants the auditor general access to all books and records relating to the public accounts of the country, however, the BIR believes that it is under statutory duty to maintain confidentiality.

The report also states, ‘‘The Auditor General said that the (BIR) has now raised concerns that there are further potential confidentiality issues relating to the FATCA (United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance.’’ This has been a long-standing issue raised in successive EITI reports and raises concerns on the country’s assurance environment.

Recent steps have been taken to improve the country’s assurance environment with the Minister of Finance laying a Draft Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA) Bill in Parliament.

The bill seeks to establish a TTRA, which will replace the Inland Revenue Division of the Ministry of Finance (also referred to as the Board of Inland Revenue/BIR) and replace the Customs and Excise Division. The bill allows for an annual audit by the Auditor General (AG).

The AG will also:

i. Have access to all books and records

ii. Conduct a comprehensive audit of all the activities of the TTRA and

iii. Inform the Minister of Finance of any irregularities. The AG’s Report on the TTRA will also be laid in Parliament annually. The TTEITI Steering Committee has always been a strong advocate for absolving the auditor general from Income Tax Act confidentiality provisions that precludes his access to the BIR’s records.

3 Mining sector regulation:

The White Paper on Minerals Policy 2015 highlights the under reporting of both production and royalty payments from mining companies and states that between 2001 and 2013 only 10 percent of royalties were collected. The paper states that between 2005-2013 the Government should have gained TT$123.3 million in royalty payments, but it only collected TT $13.3 million from mining companies. Apart from the royalty shortfall, only seven mining companies have licenses despite there being 91 active mining operations throughout the country.

Given these legacy issues, the auditor recommends that Government develops a system to independently verify production whether through weighbridges or drone technology. The Ministry of Energy is currently reviewing a drone system to help improve production verification. The auditor also recommends that the system for licensing operators should be simplified and a time-bound plan developed to grant outstanding licences.

The EITI, if used correctly, is a useful resource for the country to assess its extractive sector governance. How well our revenue collection, data management and audit and assurance systems work impacts on our short, medium and long-term plans.

It is important to note that the information and data in the latest report is not the end point but rather a conversation starter. Hopefully, the report provides a platform for greater discourse on the extractive sectors and, more importantly, how we can use extractive sector revenue to effectively fuel our developmental goals.

For more information on the TTEITI and to view the latest EITI report please visit www.tteiti.org.tt

Categories: News

T&TEC shines light on renewables

Business Guardian - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 05:12

The T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) is leading the way in renewable energy in T&T, says acting general manager Courtenay Mark. While he admits that the utility’s cheap electricity rates are not an incentive for more efficient energy use, the company is using innovative ways to transform that culture.

In an interview at T&TEC’s office, Mt Hope, Mark explained that renewable energy falls into two main categories—dispatchables and non dispatchables.

Non dispatchable renewable energy sources occur naturally such as with solar energy which is only available during the day. Dispatchable renewable energy sources, which are available continuously, include hydro energy and energy produced from waste which can be stored for use as one sees fit.

Non dispatchable renewables are attracting a great deal of interest, he said.

“This is where solar energy is taking root. T&TEC has done research of our own. There are solar panels on the buildings outside where we have four kilowatts installed at this location. We also installed four kilowatts of panels at the University of T&T (UTT) campus,” Mark revealed.

“We have remote access to these facilities to determine the amount of energy we are getting. Typically we would get 20 per cent availability from the installed panels based on the cloud cover and sunlight that we would normally get.”

T&TEC has also done research on wind energy, mainly in Tobago.

“We installed anemometers—these are wind speed devices—at Flagstaff Hill which is the very northern most tip of Tobago and we took wind measurements there. The wind speeds we have discovered, so far, can be used for medium-sized wind turbines—that would be in the range of 750 kilowatts to one megawatt—but would hardly sustain much larger turbines,” he said.

Giving practical example of how much energy powers a house, Mark explained: “A three-bedroom house with lighting, microwave and other typical appliances would use about two kilowatts of power.

“Because the sun is not available constantly, a house could not run on its own if it only had two kilowatts of solar panels installed. If any there was any installation away from T&TEC’s grid, panels have to be installed of a capacity to compensate for that lower level of availability of energy. It also should compensate for when there is no sunlight. That would require batteries to be installed to store energy if you were off grid.”

Mark said T&TEC has contemplated that at some time houses will have solar panels which will offset electricity bills and even put excess power back into the grid.

“The electricity tariffs in the Caribbean are six or seven times more than in T&T. The payback for that investment is quite attractive.

“In the case of T&T, we have the lowest tariffs in the western hemisphere and if we were to make that investment it might not appear to have the kind of payback time to make it attractive.

“That did not stop T&TEC from pressing on in working with a number of stakeholders, like the Bureau of Standards, the Government’s Electrical Inspectorate, our line ministry, the Ministry of Energy and other regulatory agencies to place a framework in place for a renewable energy policy,” he said.

The final step in that process would be legislative changes to allow households to generate electricity and connect back to T&TEC’s grid.

According to Mark, there are practical examples of T&TEC powering street lights via renewable energy, including on the Manzanilla stretch where “there is a portion where extending the electricity from the grid to that area would have been costly. We saw it was more economical to have self sustaining lights.”

He added: “On these structures we have solar panels powering high efficiency LED lights with their local battery storage, so even if there was cloud cover or loss of electricity for up to three days, they would work through the night and keep the lights on.

“That penetration is also being done on the Priority Bus Route right now and there is a vision to expand further in the future. Solar LED street lights have also been installed on the Solomon Hochoy Highway in the vicinity of the Gasparillo overpass.”

Efficient gas use

As it pertains to the gas shortage in the country, Mark underscored the benefits of developing a programme for efficient gas use.

“Gas resources are very tight and T&TEC has to use gas efficiently, so quite apart from renewable energy, T&TEC has been doing many things to be efficient and prudent in the use of our limited natural gas supply. That is why we have the combined cycle plant in La Brea and have introduced LED street lights which use about 20 per cent of the energy used by the high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps we would have otherwise used.

“These street lights have been installed around the Queen’s Park Savannah, BWIA Boulevard, Arima Bus Terminal, Solomon Hochoy Highway in the vicinity of Corinth and Milford Road Scarborough.”

He said the capital investment for the LED street lights could be twice as much as an HPS lamp but in the long run it is less costly.

“The frequency of maintenance is lower and the energy it consumes is lower so in the long run it gives you a better payback. It is a good investment,” he said.

Raising awareness about renewable energy

Because energy is so cheap in T&T and natural gas is accessible at a minimum cost, people do not pay heed to conserving energy or its cost, Mark said.

“I do not think that the average consumer is thinking of how they use energy with gas. They do not make the distinction with gas and the production of electricity. They hardly make that connection between electricity and how it is in the whole value chain.

“They just know that they can turn on their switches and they get lights and they get the bill and it is affordable. There is a lack of awareness and consciousness on the true cost of producing electricity.”

For that reason, the Ministry of Public Utilities has embarked on a conservation drive.

“There is an agreement that government buildings should be taking a lead by demonstrating that they should take off lights, reduce air conditioning demands and be leading by example,” Mark said.

Categories: News

Steel plant deal in jeopardy

Business Guardian - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 05:09

A deal for the purchase of the mothballed ArcelorMittal Iron and Steel Plant by Nu-Iron Unlimited could be in jeopardy as the company has threatened to walk away because of failure to reach agreement with state-owned National Energy for use of a port.

Sources close to the negotiations said negotiations between Nu-Iron—a subsidiary of United States company Nucor—and National Energy, part of the NGC Group of Companies, for the use of the port at Point Lisas has been protracted and Nu-Iron has threatened to walk away from the deal.

In a response to questions from Business and Money, National Energy officials would only say it was involved in mature discussions with Nu-Iron.

The company stated: “Please be advised that National Energy has been in mature and deliberate discussions with Nu-Iron. These discussions are at a very advanced stage. At an appropriate juncture, an announcement would be made by the parties.”

More than two years ago, ArcelorMittal shut down its plant at Point Lisas blaming a combination of local and international challenges which it said had led to severe financial distress since the second half of 2015.

It also blamed proposed increases in natural gas prices by the NGC and higher electricity prices as two reasons was forced to pack up.

ArcelorMittal said then: “Proposed major increases in the price of gas and electricity at a time of falling commodity prices have rendered production costs uncompetitive. Additionally, proposed increases to port rental fees, announced property taxes and business levies have further contributed to the unsustainability of the business.”

With more than a billion dollars owed to creditors and workers, the company was put into receivership and Christopher Kelshall was appointed receiver.

Kelshall admitted he has had to extend the “black-out period” as Nu-Iron has not been able to reach an agreement with NEC for use of the port, or a gas contract with the NGC.

“From the documentation I have received from both the National Energy and the NGC, I am convinced that they are doing a thorough job. It is a fact that use of the port is a condition precedent.

“I have been asked to provide information to the entities and I am satisfied they are treating it seriously and meticulous in their due diligence and all with an interest to making sure they run the rule over the preferred bidder. From what I can see, it is being done in a very professional way,” he said.

Kelshall said other companies had expressed interest in the plant but the selection process was “transparent and meticulous” and his selection was the best one for the creditors.

He added that it had come to his attention that a US-based company, Macarri, with support from the Steel Workers Union of T&T (SWUTT), was being promoted. However, last year when he was open for business “they were no where in the dance” and cannot be considered at this stage.

Should the preferred bidder, Nu-Iron, fail to get the required regulatory approvals, he will seek an alternative, he said.

Nu-Iron Unlimited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nucor Corporation based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company produces direct reduced iron (DRI) which is melted and processed into steel.

Nu-Iron Unlimited is the largest shipper of cold DRI in the world.

Categories: News

Closer look at our Point Lisas model

Business Guardian - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 05:07

Faced with natural gas shortages, higher gas prices, increased global competition and relatively weak commodity prices, the local downstream sector is facing its greatest challenge since inception.

While there has been some improvement in natural gas production, it is still not sufficient to meet the demands of the sector and with cheap shale gas in the US and new production in North America the T&T model is not as bright as it used to be.

For many, the Point Lisas Industrial Estate is simply the country’s main industrial development in which petrochemicals are manufactured and exported. It is, in fact, seen as a monolithic production centre that has some impact on the country’s economy.

While there is some validity in this view, the downstream sector housed at the estate is varied with different dynamics that determine the markets in which they operate, their profitability and the challenges they face.

T&T remains the largest producer of ammonia and the second largest producer of methanol in the world. It is also the largest exporter of urea to the United States. But the country also produces melamine, UAN and metals, so the products are all different but all require natural gas as a major input in their production process.

It is this that has created the conundrum with insufficient natural gas production due to low investment in the upstream during the 2005/2012 period and the rise of production of cheap gas in the major market for the very petrochemical product. As a result, the country’s petrochemical sector is under pressure.

To fully understand Point Lisas and why it became such a backbone of the country’s economy is to understand how it started.

In the late 1960s, Amoco made huge discoveries off the Guayaguayare coast and along with onland production and production from what is today called Trinmar. T&T was producing more than a quarter million barrels of crude a day. This led to further exploration as companies tried to replicate the success of Amoco, now called bpTT but, instead, made significant natural gas discoveries.

This did two things.

It meant the country had windfall cash to invest and also had significant natural gas reserves.

Added to this, businessmen in south Trinidad led by the late Gerard Montano were advocating for development of an industrial base in south Trinidad and a deepwater port.

In tracing the development of the local petrochemical industry, a distinguishing feature is the very critical role played by foreign private capital.

This has been a deliberate government strategy, mainly in response to the need for huge capital injection and access to international markets. Over time it involved a number of joint-venture arrangements with varying levels of state participation.

As the Ministry of Energy notes in its history of the sector, WR Grace was the first multinational on the local scene producing fertilisers, and in 1959 that company commissioned a 250,000 tonne/annum (tpa) ammonia plant, Federation Chemicals Ltd (FedChem).

In a joint-venture arrangement with the Government of T&T, the company commissioned two additional ammonia production facilities—Tringen I in 1977 and Tringen II in 1988—with the Government owning 51 per cent of the shareholding.

In 1981, Fertilisers of T&T Limited (Fertrin), a joint-venture between the Government (51 per cent) and Amoco International Oil Company (49 per cent), commissioned two ammonia plants, each with a rated capacity of 344,500 tpa.

Until 1990, Fertrin was also responsible for the operation and management of the T&T Urea Company (TTUC) plant, which was commissioned in 1984.

Methanol production began at Point Lisas in 1983 with the commissioning of the T&T Methanol Company’s (TTMC’s) first plant, with a capacity of 450,000 tpa, with 100 per cent state ownership. The Government later divested 31 per cent of its holdings in the plant to a German consortium, Ferrostaal/Helm. An expansion project, TTMC II (550,000 tpa), came onstream in 1996 with the Government and Ferrostaal/Helm owning 69 per cent and 31 per cent of the shareholding respectively.

Unlike ammonia, however, early developments in methanol also involved a strong element of local private sector participation. This occurred with the establishment of the Caribbean Methanol Company’s plant at Point Lisas in 1993 with the local insurance company, Clico, accounting for 64.9 per cent of the shareholding, and the remaining partners, Ferrostaal and Methanex, owning 25.1 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

These were all major investments and, up until 2008, there seemed to be consistent expansion in capacity that allowed a country with a small size and small reserves to be a major player in the petrochemical sector.

To what extent is this all now being threatened and what can we do to prevent it?

More on this next week

Categories: News

High cost of environmental degradation

Business Guardian - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 05:05

Earlier this week an Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone dumped heavy rains across T&T. With that excessive rainfall came flash floods across the East-West corridor and parts of central and south Trinidad which receded to expose the tonnes of waste, shrubbery and silt which were among the causes of the problem, clogging drains and polluting watercourses.

Clean up and repairs are still in progress in some of the worst affected areas but the costs from this latest deluge are only a fraction of the heavy costs being inflicted on this country from weather events, as well as climate change and the environmental degradation. Wasteful, unlawful and destructive practices are taking place because of lax enforcement, as well as corrupt systems.

Often the focus in the aftermath of these events is on losses suffered by households and farmers. Little or no attention is paid to the bigger picture of the longer-term economic losses, not just in terms of remediation and repairs, but also in lost opportunities when industries and entire sectors lose their competitive edge.

If this is not already an area of concern for our legislators, planners and developers, it should be.

T&T, as a small island developing state (SIDS), is already highly vulnerable to natural disasters like tropical storms, earthquakes, floods and droughts, as well as climate change and rising sea levels. This week’s severe weather and the episode of coastal erosion—which forced the relocation of some families from Cedros—are only the latest reminders of how this can affect the quality of life for citizens.

But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, we make matters worse for ourselves with unhealthy and irresponsible acts such as polluting waterways and coastal areas, illegal dumping and slash and burn farming—the main reasons for the accelerated deforestation excessive soil erosion and depletion of fisheries and wildlife.

It is all well and good to point fingers at whatever government happens to be in power, or manufacturers and other big businesses but the responsibility for the loss of wealth being suffered by this country due to ecosystem degradation has to be more widely spread. Priority needs to be given to reducing degradation and protecting the environment, including developing economic and sector policies for improved environmental management.

Counting the cost of the environmental damage already inflicted in this country might not yield completely accurate figures and only estimates of the costs of remedial action might be possible at this stage. But let’s not get too carried away with getting the figures correct, right down to the decimal point. All around us there is clear evidence of the high price T&T is already paying and the situation will only continue to get worse unless decisive action is taken to halt, then reverse, the decline.

As an example of the damage and expense inflicted through environmental degradation, consider the sources of our water supply.

Approximately 80 per cent of the surface freshwater sources exploited by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) comes from the Northern Range and about US$2.23 million is spent every month to purchase the remaining ten per cent of the water supply from the desalination plant.

However, the watersheds in the Northern Range have been degraded by deforestation, unplanned developments, squatting, quarrying and bush fires. Pollution from human activities combined with the sedimentation from soil erosion are other concerns.

Add to that the unreliability of the water supply from WASA—and it is not a stretch to say—there can be consequences and a significant cost due to lack of safe potable water. For one thing, there is the increased expenditure on bottled water, as well as increased pressure on the country’s health system from diseases caused by an unsafe water supply.

In a situation where there isn’t clean water for drinking and hygiene purposes, inadequate sanitation facilities and sanitary practices, there is the risk of illness—putting entire communities at risk—as well as the cost to the public health system for treatment, medication and protective measures.

Consider, also, the scourge of uncontrolled and unplanned development and construction—another of the destructive practices which digs deep into the pockets of taxpayers.

In many parts of the country this has led to degradation of forests, with serious implications for the country. The loss of forest reserves means the loss of buffers against the impacts of catastrophic weather events. As recent natural disasters in the region have proven, T&T and other countries in this corner of the world are now at the mercy of changing weather patterns.

Then there is the matter of the many illegal quarries across T&T that cause various environmental harm, including destruction of natural vegetation and air and water pollution, negatively affecting the surrounding communities. The extent to which quarrying is taking place in so many areas with little consideration for the environment and surrounding human settlements is an issue that should be more fully engaging the attention of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

The EMA has recently signalled its intent to crackdown on illegal quarrying in Toco. It would be a lot better if the agency embarks on a countrywide campaign.

Tourism cannot thrive unless visitors are guaranteed an unspoiled destination. Since 90 per cent of tourists go for coastal tourism, T&T doesn’t offer as much in the way of white sandy beaches as other neighbouring Caribbean destinations. Add to that the reality of coastal pollution, particularly in the Gulf of Paria, and one of the key challenges of developing tourism as a sector to drive economic diversification becomes apparent.

Go to Tobago, some would say, where world famous Buccoo Reef, Nylon Pool and other natural attractions await.

According to a recent study, the economic contribution of tourism from Buccoo Reef alone is estimated at US$7 to US$8.8 million annually. However, here too, destructive practices have taken a toll, caused in part by reef walking, boat groundings, anchoring and illegal fishing, plus sewage discharge and other forms of pollution which have increased coral bleaching and disease.

Reef-based tourism and recreation can make valuable contributions to the T&T economy but actions and policies will have to be introduced, sooner rather than later, to halt then reverse the degradation of Buccoo Reef.

These and many other issues that need to be tackled will incur some short-term costs. Consider that a valuable investment in longer-term economic and ecological benefits for the country that will far outweigh that financial output.

While we are on the subject, since we also happen to be two small islands that are heavily industrialised, there is also the matter of adopting best practices to prevent air, water and ground pollution from the various manufacturing processes.

Laws need to be revised, modernised and developed and incentives offered for the protection of our fragile SIDS environment and for development of more eco-friendly systems and operations. There is no escaping the fact that we all need to take better care of the environment. The future prosperity and sustainability of these two islands depends on it.

Categories: News

Shameful TTFA; Congratulations TTPBA

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:39

When I think about the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB), I think of a soap opera; a never-ending drama series but, along comes to an action-packed horror movie desperately trying for the #1 rating: the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Just like cricket, you hold steadfast to the belief that our football can’t get any worse than it already is, and wham! a headline hits you, “McIntyre: Williams, TTFA dropped the ball”. I asked myself, who is Mc Intyre? I was unfamiliar with the goodly gentleman, but I assumed he may have been associated with some aspect of football. To my absolute horror, I realised the man is the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy and penned an unprecedented release, accusing Williams and his jokers of total inefficiency in not obtaining visas for our National Girls Under-15 team to compete in the CONCACAF Girls Under-15 Championship in Florida, USA.

Can you imagine the hurt and pain that these young girls would have been made to endure by not getting the opportunity to showcase their talents in the USA? I am certain many football scouts, who would be on the lookout for young recruits to give them scholarships to attend their respective universities, will be present. What about their parents who would have been psyching them up for this tournament? How would they be feeling? How do they now explain this to their daughters?

There is absolutely no excuse for submitting visa applications with inadequate information to the US Embassy on 31st July 2018, to be processed by 3rd August 2018 with a public holiday on August 1st. I have neither seen nor heard of the US embassy coming out and penning a release about why a particular group had not obtained visas. They have always been known to not comment on individual cases; of course, the TTFA has once again created history for the wrong reasons. The US Embassy officials must have felt betrayed by the TTFA’s President’s statement that CONCACAF looked into the idea of hosting the event (and others in the future) in other countries because most Caribbean nations are faced with problems when trying to acquire US visas. The US has hosted many tournaments, both at the junior and senior level, and there are a procedure and time span for clubs, teams and countries to obtain visas. You can check with your technical director if you were ignorant to the procedure, as he tours yearly with his club team; I am sure he is well aware of how you obtain visas to play in the USA.

It is glaringly obvious that the TTFA and its President didn’t drop the ball, but rather turned up at the wrong venue for the match. To be blunt, this Administration continues to be inept. Its failure to plan has adversely affected these young girls and they then have the audacity to blame the US Embassy.

Now the horse has bolted, the TTFA is requesting a meeting with the same people who were lambasted and blamed for not getting the visas. What has quite obviously shocked the TTFA President is the response from the Embassy. My dear readers, the jokers never expected such a response from the Embassy, so the goodly President gave us his usual garbage to hold and thought we would have accepted it hook, line and sinker; but may the good Lord bless Chargé d’Affaires McIntyre who came out and told us the truth. But it is unfortunate because the jokers don’t care. I hope they get their wish for a meeting.

If I was McIntyre, I would tell Williams December 25th as he seems to enjoy having meetings on public holidays.

On another note, TTFA Board Member Keith Look Loy is still waiting for over two years for the financials from the “Home of Football” and has gone the legal route to get the TTFA to supply some form of accountability to the members.

He has now called for the TTFA executive to resign (he must be dreaming!) after this latest debacle and in his own words, “collectively they have engineered the calamitous deterioration of our football”. Look Loy has listed close to a dozen examples of total mismanagement by this bunch and as he says, “the frightening aspect is the bunch have taken football to its lowest point and it might be a position we may never recover from”. A scary thought indeed, didn’t I say it was a horror show starring the TTFA executive?

Anyway, on a more positive note, congratulations to the Trinidad and Tobago Powerboat Association (TTPBA) as this Saturday we will witness the 50th running of the Great Race. The Great race has gone from being a national event to an international event with the sanctioning of the race by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), the world governing body for all powerboating activities which makes the event eligible for the UIM record books. This year also sees a foreign boat joining the competition in Lucas Oil; something which I have been clamouring for as I felt our racers need to be exposed to more international competitors.

Godspeed to all the participants! My wish for you is a safe crossing and great racing on the 50th running of the Trinidad and Tobago Great Race.

Categories: News

Morvant Caledonia, Pt Fortin share points

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:37

Point Fortin Civic FC and Morvant Caledonia United will go into the third round of matches in the 2018 T&T Pro League season still searching for a first win, after a 2-2 draw in their round two fixture at Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin on Tuesday night.

Beaten 4-3 by Defence Force in its season opener, Morvant Caledonia went ahead just after three minutes through Richard Williams.

However, on the half-hour mark, former national youth team player, Nion Lammy drew the host level and eight minutes later, Point Fortin Civic which drew goalless with former champions, San Juan Jabloteh in its first-round clash, took the lead courtesy national and W Connection midfielder Hughton Hector, which it took into the half-time interval.

However, two minutes after the re-start, Morvant Caledonia United got back on even terms when Malik Mieres also netted his first goal for the club after which both teams failed to find a winner.

The share of the points left, Point Fortin Civic, sixth on the ten-team table with two points from as many matches, one ahead of Morvant Caledonia AIA.San Juan Jabloteh led the table with

four points after edging past defending champions, North East Stars 1-0 in an earlier match of Tuesday at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar with Sean Bonval 76th minute item the decider.

The trio of W Connection, Central FC and Defence Force, all former multiple title winners were joint second with three points ahead of matches last night with Club Sando facing Central FC, and W Connection versus Police FC, both at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva while Defence Force tackled St Ann’s Rangers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Round Three matches will take place on Saturday while Morvant Caledonia will resume play on August 22 against North East Stars, a completely new side headed by a new management and staff and a bunch of players under development this season - nothing from the bunch that won the league last season under Derek King, now coach of T&T Super League outfit, FC Santa Rosa.

TUESDAY’S RESULTS

• North East Stars 0 vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Sean Bonval 76’)
• Point Fortin Civic 2 (Nion Lammy 30th, Hughtun Hector 38th) vs Morvant Caledonia United 2 (Richard Williams 3rd, Malik Mieres 47th)

SATURDAY’S MATCH-UPS• Pt Fortin Civic vs Club Sando, Mahaica Oval, Pt Fortin, 6 pm
• Police FC vs Jabloteh, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, 4 pm
• Defence Force vs North East Stars, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, 4 pm
• Central FC vs W Connection, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, 6 pm

Categories: News

Warner guides Bermudez to U-16 title

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:34

Led by the accurate shooting of goal-shooter Phoebe Warner, Bermudez wrapped up the title in the Courts All Sectors Netball League Under-16 Youth Development Programme with one round of matches outstanding.

On Tuesday at the Eastern Regional Indoor Sports Arena in Tacarigua, Warner connected 20 goals from 24 attempts to see Bermudez past MIC Tigers, 30-5.

This followed up her brilliant shooting performance for the champion in its 29-16 win over against Southern Netball Academy (SNA) South, the day before. Warner has been quite consistent for Bermudez in the round-robin tournament, shooting with 90 per cent accuracy, netting 18 of 20 tries in another lopsided affair

It was the sixth straight win for Bermudez from as many matches to complete the second edition of the youth tournament unbeaten just as in the inaugural competition when it claimed the crown, last year.

In its final match the day before against the Tigers, Warner, a T&T junior player partnered with her national teammate, goal-attack Kelelicia George, who scored six in nine, to have Bermudez comfortably ahead early on.

Bermudez led from the start and was impressive on both offence and defence holding a 10-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter, then 19-1 at the half.

 

There wasn’t much improvement from the MIC netballers, who added only one goal in the third period, to trail 27-2 heading into the final stanza.

Shaniqua Griffith replaced George in the goal-attack position and she added four in seven to help Bermudez in the huge win.
In other matches that afternoon, University of T&T (UTT), who is in second place, only losing to Bermudez thus far, defeated SNA East, 27-15 while SNA South got its first victory in the competition, beating the Police Youth Club (PYC), 23-9.

Today the final round of matches will take place starting at 1 pm.

Categories: News

Kerry vs Wong in LCA Sagicor final

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:28

It will be an all-T&T affair in the Boys Singles and Boys Consolation final today in the 14& Under Division of the LCA Sagicor/COTECC Junior Tennis Tournament at the St Lucia National Tennis Centre in Castries, St Lucia.

Kyle Kerry, who has an unblemished record in the playoffs to date will face his compatriot Ethan Wong in the singles’ grand finale on court two, while the adjacent court three will feature  Thomas Chung up against Tim Pasea to be played simultaneously. In the singles Kerry overcame another TT stand-out Sebastian Sylvester in the first of two semi-finals yesterday, earning a convincing 6-1, 6-1 victory for the right to seal a final berth.

Wong had a more difficult contest with Luca Shamsi, another TT player, before prevailing in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.

Later in the consolation affair, Chung, the number#1 seed got the better of Beckham Sylvester 4-1, 5-3 while Pasea made light work out of Barbadian Alexander Small in two sets 4-1, 4-0.

The Girls singles final, to be played on court one, will feature Sibley Charles of Antigua and Hannah Chambers of Barbados. Charles in her semi-final match defeated Maely Betzy of Martinique 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and Chambers clobbered Grenada’s Sienna Dominique 6-0, 6-0 to advance.

Meanwhile, in the Girls’ 14&Under Doubles T&T’s Cameron Wong joined forces with Charles to secure the title, when they defeated the pair of Chambers and St Lucia’s Alannah Bousquet in the final 6-3, 6-2.

—Walter Alibey

Categories: News

Skipper Pollard: Self-belief still there

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:26

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Embattled St Lucia Stars captain Kieron Pollard has insisted his struggling side still possess the self belief to turn around their ill-fated campaign in the Caribbean Premier League.

Stars lost their third game in a row on Tuesday night at Sabina Park when they went down by six wickets to unbeaten hosts Jamaica Tallawahs.

The defeat was the 14th on the trot for Stars dating back to the 2016 season, after also going winless last season.

“I’ve played in enough franchises. I’ve played in a franchise where everyone thought we were dead and we came back and won the tournament,” Pollard said following the contest.

“So for me in my mind, the belief is still there and in the mind of the guys, the belief is still there. Until we are mathematically out of this tournament we will continue to fight and we will continue to fight hard.”

Stars suffered a 100-run crushing by reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders on the opening night of the tournament in Port-of-Spain a week ago, before also losing to Guyana Amazon Warriors by three runs in Georgetown three days later.

Last night at Sabina Park, they put up a challenging 175 batting first but then failed to defend it, and Pollard pointed that errors in the field had been to their undoing.

“It’s the nature of the game. In order to win games and to win championships you have to concentrate for 40 overs and we haven’t been doing that,” Pollard explained.

“Having said that batting first on that pitch everyone thought it was a bad decision but I think 175 was always going to be a challenging total.

“We brought it right down to the end and taking a couple of our catches and bowling a couple more tight overs and it could have been a different ball game.”

Stars take on TKR again on Thursday night in Gros Islet before clashing with 2014 champions Barbados Tridents at the same venue the following night. (CMC)

Categories: News

Unbeaten Tallawahs keep woeful Stars winless

Sports - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 00:24

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Woeful St Lucia Stars plummeted to their 14th defeat on the trot, going down to Jamaica Tallawahs by six wickets in the seventh match of the Caribbean Premier League on Tuesday night.

The visitors did well to get up to 175 all out off their 20 overs after opting for first knock at Sabina Park but the hosts produced a measured run chase to get home with two balls to spare, to post their second straight win.

Kiwi opener Glenn Phillips lashed 58 off 40 balls while West Indies star Rovman Powell steered Tallawahs home with a typically entertaining unbeaten 43 from 23 deliveries.

Stars have now lost the opening three fixtures of this year’s tournament and lie bottom of the table, and have now not won a game in the tournament since the 2016 edition, after having the dubious honour of going winless last season.

Jamaica Tallwahs’ Rovman Powell … saw his side to victory with an unbeaten 43.

Opener Andre Fletcher top-scored with 43 from 33 balls with five fours and two sixes while former captain Darren Sammy chipped in with 36 and current skipper Kieron Pollard, 26.

Man-of-the-Match leg-spinner Adam Zampa (3-27) and fast bowler Oshane Thomas (3-39) spearheaded the Tallawahs attack.

Australian David Warner’s poor form continue when he played on to Thomas for seven in the second over but Fletcher and Lendl Simmons (22) combined in a 54-run second wicket stand to repair the innings.

Simmons looked ominous, striking a four and a couple of six but his dismissal, well taken at extra cover by Johnson Charles off seamer Andre Russell, triggered a slide which saw three wickets tumble for 23 runs.

In need of a partnership, Sammy and Pollard put on 36 for the fifth wicket, setting the stage for a late assault which never came, as neither could conjure up the necessary acceleration required.

Sammy belted two fours and three sixes off 24 deliveries while Pollard struggled in a 22-ball knock, gathering only a brace of fours and a single six.

In reply, Tallawahs got out of the blocks well, as Phillips combined with Charles (31) in an 81-run opening stand to put Stars on the back foot.

While Phillips blasted two fours and half-dozen sixes, Charles counted four fours and six in a 20-ball outing.

Both fell in the space of 19 runs, however, and when Andre McCarthy (20) holed out to Pollard running in from long on off left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan, Tallawahs were stumbling somewhat at 125 for three in the 15th over – still needing 51 runs from 30 balls.

But Powell took charge of the back end of the run chase, slamming two fours and four sixes, dominating a 38-run, fourth wicket stand with Russell (3).

With Tallawahs needing eight runs from the final over, Powell got a single from the first ball before Ross Taylor (eight not out) cleared the ropes at mid-wicket with Pollard off the third ball to virtually put the game to bed. (CMC)

Scores

175 all out off 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 43, Darren Sammy 36, Kieron Pollard 26, Lendl Simmons 22; Adam Zampa 3-27, Oshane Thomas 3-39)
TALLAWAHS 176 for four off 19.4 overs (Glenn Phillips 58, Rovman Powell 43 not out, Johnson Charles 31)

Categories: News

Abdicating responsibility?

Columnists - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 23:59

In a chance encounter after church last Sunday, a former senior public servant noted that the public have misplaced responsibility on politicians and not focused enough on ensuring that people do their jobs; in the public service, state enterprises, the private sector. It can be corrected simply enough in the private sector; dissatisfied customers will go elsewhere and the business will die. This cannot happen with either the Teaching Service or the Police Service as they are the bedrock of any society.

Why the connection? First, teachers are a critical element in making a country prosperous and stable by ensuring the youth can read and write and well versed in the fundamentals so that they can become good citizens and contribute responsibly to the development of the society. They are meant to complement the basic training and values that students should receive at home. The Police service is responsible for the maintenance of law and order; this presumes the existence of good citizens who will follow or can be induced to follow the law, and good police officers.

When last I checked, the basic qualification for a position in the government service was five CXC passes which must include Mathematics, English, and one science subject. This forms the basis of an educational objective; ensuring that a maximum number of school graduates leave with a “full certificate” (five CXC passes which must include Mathematics, English). To make that a specific measurable goal, one would need to add an objective, say 50 per cent of graduates.

This objective then becomes a measure by which to evaluate individual school performance and by extension, whether teachers are meeting basic requirements. Where performance is below this level, corrective adjustments must be made. Remedial change as appropriate could be devised to address the failings of weaker schools, the relevant teaching departments and teachers. In addition, the performance of these schools should be monitored to ensure that the remediation plans are working.

The purpose of this measurement process is to ensure that the required number of students meet the country’s education standards and requirements. Why? Because educational success is fundamental to meeting the country’s developmental needs and to ensure that the country can take care of itself. How? To meet the country’s manpower needs—the next generation of CEO, doctors, lawyers, engineers, chemists, plumbers, masons etc. That is why the education process is critical to any society’s future as it is responsible for guiding the development of the next generation.

Manpower planning critical

Approximately 19,000 students sit the SEA. In 2018, 2,595 students scored below 30 per cent. Students under the age of 13 who scored below the 30 per cent mark had to re-sit the exam, while students above 13 were placed in secondary schools with a special curriculum (T&T Guardian June 29). 16,042 from government and government-assisted schools sat the

CXC/CSEC. Of this figure, 1,486 scored no pass marks (Newsday August 14).

These are alarming figures. It also noteworthy that the Education Minister did not say how many passed with a full certificate, defined as five CXC’s including Math and English. Indeed, all this information should be available for the last ten years by school by subject.

We live in an information age and sorting this data into information should take minutes even if the printing (for all schools) should take hours. A search of the Education Ministry’s website and publication reveals no such data. Requests of various specialists in the area indicate that this information is a closely guarded secret. So where are we going if we don’t have information? Exactly what success is the Education Ministry achieving? What of evidenced-based policy goals?

As a country grows it requires more skills sets, new and different skills. Every year people die, retire or emigrate, some get sick. Employment and career opportunities are created as a result of this growth and replacement process. Much of this happens without planning. But it would be better informed if there was some mechanism which anticipates these changes. That process is called manpower planning and even if not done in detail, it should be subject to some oversight/ review in general terms.

When the Minister of Health is saying that he is looking for 250 specialist doctors, he would have arrived at the figure from an assessment of the country’s health care needs. One month nago, the Energy Minister complained that over 200 hundred engineers applied for the ten vacant positions advertised. But those needs didn’t arise last month. It simply says that nobody was doing the planning required ten years ago; If it was done, then someone didn’t listen. When questioned on the large number of non-specialist doctors versus specialist, the Health Minister refers to the Education Minister.

School dropouts and those with low educational performance are a feeder route into the sub culture of gangs and crime related activity. Acting AG Fitzgerald Hinds was chased in Beetham by “misguided” youngsters, not adults. Billions have been spent on security and education and both areas need significant performance improvement. Paying higher salaries will not solve the problem and a more integrated policy framework is required. It starts with leadership and management.

Categories: News

Caring for creationand

Columnists - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 23:55

“The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion...Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. (Laudato Si, on care for our common home, #217).

If we are committed to ecological conversion/healing our wounded creation, we must demonstrate that, as Pope Francis said, the effects of our encounter with Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us. CCSJ urges all parishes, schools, Archdiocesan departments, and Ecclesial communities to prepare to observe World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation. On August 6, 2015, Pope Francis declared September 1, annually, as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation as has been the custom in the Orthodox Church since 1989. Over the years, many other Christian denominations have embraced this initiative.

Pope Francis asks that September 1 be “properly celebrated with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious, and the lay faithful...The annual World Day of prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” He hopes that this annual event “will become a significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.”

We are also urged to observe the Season of Creation which runs from September 1-October 4–the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Christian communities around the world will be organising events to observe this “season”. The ecumenical website http://seasonofcreation.org and the Franciscan Action Network’s guided rosary, https://franciscanaction.org, with an emphasis on Caring for Creation, as a response to the call to Prayer in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical, are just two of the many websites that offer resources that can be used during this season. And see CCSJ’s draft framework towards an Environmental Policy for the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain http://rcsocialjusticett.org/2.0/special-focus/environment/.

‘A new work of mercy’
In 2016 Pope Francis declared care for creation a new work of mercy. As Catholic News Agency reported, “he encouraged Christians to make an examination of conscience, evaluating the ways in they have contributed to ‘the disfigurement and destruction of creation,’ given that ‘we all generate small ecological damage.’

After doing a sincere examination of conscience, ‘we can confess our sins against the Creator, against creation, and against our brothers and sisters,’ he said, explaining that we confess sins against the environment because ‘we are penitent and desire to change.’

“The grace received from confession must then be put into action with concrete ways of thinking and acting that are more respectful of creation, he said, suggesting the reduction of water use, recycling, carpooling, turning off unused lights and limiting the amount of food cooked to only what will be consumed as ideas to start with.

“Care of creation should also contribute ‘to shaping the culture and society in which we live,’ Pope Francis said, adding that economics, politics, society and culture ‘cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains. Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation.’”

Read the joint statement from Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew to mark last year’s World Day. As Crux reported, they said that “what’s happening in the world today reveals a ‘morally decaying scenario, where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators.’ They call on those ‘in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth, and to attend to the needs of the marginalized.’

“They stressed that care for the environment, and care for the poor, are inextricably linked. ‘The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people...The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe.”
If we truly love our country/world we will “find new ways forward” to respect the sacredness of creation. Let’s reconcile our relationship with God, creation, and humanity.

Categories: News

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