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Carvalho’s talent abounds

News - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 01:22

His amazing ability to dramatise stories with a mixture of entertainment and messages of sound values is what makes Fareid Carvalho a household name in T&T’s children’s theatre industry.

Only two weeks ago, he returned to the adult theatre world exploring vital themes such as fatherhood.

In the business for some 17 years, Carvalho’s unique talent has resulted in his productions being sought after especially by secondary school students who study his work in great detail. Part of the School Based Assessments (SBAs) require students to study a live play.

Carvalho, who turns 37 on May 25, has had his plays sponsored and endorsed by the Education Ministry.

But how did his journey begin?

“At St Monica’s Preparatory School the junior school was not allowed in the choir. There was a fantastic acting coach, Sonia Moze. On my lunch hour instead of pitching marbles I would sneak into the hall. I used to watch her in awe directing the students and I couldn’t wait to become part of it all. I was in Standard Two and I could not wait to be in Standard Five,” Carvalho reminisced.

He then went on to St Anthony’s College where his love for theatre and singing intensified. He also became a member of the Love Movement at the junior and senior levels.

“At St Anthony’s I headed the drama department and everything just unfolded from Forms Two and Three,” Carvalho said.

His modelling career also took off at that time when he was discovered by famed fashion designer Meiling.

Coincidently, while at one of the shows, Raymond Choo Kong, a stalwart in the theatre industry, invited him to an audition.

From there, Carvalho’s talent drew much attention as he worked with Richard Young of The Cloth and became a key figure in Radical Designs.

A world of opportunities also presented itself to him, including numerous television commercials.

It’s all of these elements combined which has resulted in Carvalho’s many roles today including producer, writer, director, and now drama teacher.

“While modelling I had to act and while acting I had to model. Everything is intertwined. I never trained formerly. It’s a God-given gift and I decided I wanted to make a livelihood out of it. I didn’t want to work for anyone.

“Although I was hired as an actor I would go to the theatre three hours before to learn. I watched the lighting board, the make-up artist...I basically became a jack of all trades,” he said.

Carvalho, however, became bored of constantly being given the same roles and in 2007 he left for New York to broaden his horizons.

While in the Big Apple, he fell in love with the flagship store of Toys R Us, at Times Square, a place he described as pure magic and an oasis of inspiration.

“That’s the first time I actually saw a live pantomime and that inspired me to have something like that in T&T,” Carvalho said.

He returned to the country with renewed vigour and went into children’s theatre, a first of its kind.

But the road to success was initially bumpy as Carvalho faced heavy criticism.

His first production, the Wizard of Oz, while creatively amazing, was a bust.

“Then I did The Little Mermaid.

I remember my first two shows... not a sponsor came on board. I lost my first vehicle to the bank but I persevered,” Carvalho said.

His biggest inspiration of all, however, is his mother, Elizabeth, who is his rock. Being a single parent she worked several jobs at a time not only to make ends meet but to also ensure her son, her only child, was afford the best educational opportunities.

And today, Carvalho is a force to be reckoned with in the family theatre industry, sought after by students, schools, and even private businesses across the country.

At the start of the new school term in September he is expected to be a creative writing teacher at Mucurapo Girls’ RC, now called St Mary’s Mucurapo Girls’ RC.

What began as three classes at the school quickly turned into 16.

“The Standard Five teacher said they saw a vast improvement not only in the creative writing pieces but work ethic of the girls, like coming to school early. They have been attending my plays for the past ten years and they realised the kids were absorbing the messages via this medium.

“In my plays I try to incorporate some aspects of the syllabus like moral values and accepted social behaviour patterns. The teachers wanted this in an actual school setting and after 16 classes they wanted me as a permanent creative writing teacher. The country is so crazy with all the crime and violence and if I give some hope to one child I will be happy,” Carvalho added.

He will also be the feature speaker at the school’s graduation ceremony in June.

His advice to struggling drama students, “I paid my dues. I made coffee for the producer and faced negativity. It’s not going to be easy.

I got many closed doors in my face but never gave up. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way.”

Categories: News

US mission explores trade opportunities

Business Guardian - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 01:07

The United States continues to explore opportunities to further trade relations with T&T. A trade delegation from that country recently visited to explore new prospects, create additional linkages and expand networks.

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told the eight-member delegation: “In the western hemisphere, T&T is ranked as the United States’ 59th trading partner and the largest importer of American goods in Caricom.

“The United States exported over $16 billion worth of products to T&T and imported approximately $19 billion worth of our products.

“Over the last decade, we have maintained a trade surplus with the United States which is in no small part due to the United States Government’s Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).”

The CBI facilitates development of stable Caribbean economies through provision of duty-free access to the US market for select goods.

Gopee-Scoon said: “The current system of the preferences expires in 2020 and it is anticipated that the United States’ Government will seek a renewal of the waiver of its WTO obligations in order to continue to provide duty free treatment and access to products from Caricom member states including T&T into their market.

“The Government has also commenced work in this regard with the intent of maintaining the arrangement by engaging our regional and international counterparts.”

The United States delegation comprised marine; safety and safety equipment; road building infrastructure; beverage; information and communication technology and professional services firms.

Nirad Tewarie, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (AmCham T&T) affirmed that this country “has a very sophisticated business environment and is the place to do business.”

He said the US trade relationship with T&T is of utmost importance to AmCham and the organisation is committed to working with the US Embassy to help US companies take advantage of trade and investment opportunities.

Dexter Payne, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, said the trade mission signals US confidence in the economy.

“This mission is in keeping with our mission to increase US exports; support the diversification of the economy in T&T and build bilateral relationships between both countries,” he said.

Categories: News

Here’s how T&T can compete

Business Guardian - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 01:05

There have been suggestions as to the industries which should engage our attention as we seek to diversify the economy. These include marine (with a port to service the traffic of the expanded Panama Canal and, more generally, the blue economy), agriculture (including our fine cocoa to which we can add our prize winning honey), financial services ( given our population of well-trained accountants), energy services for export, expansion of the on-shore manufacturers, support of start-up SMEs via the innovation fund, business process outsourcing, even the manufacture of aluminium motor car wheels, improved tourism and the creative industries.

This is quite a varied list. However, the philosophy is that every drop earned in foreign exchange goes to filling the bucket. Some commentators point to the industrial mix of Germany, which shows that some 68 per cent of that country’s export activities, the Mittelstand, comes from its SMEs, as a justification for such a diverse basket of industries. Import substitution is another string to the diversification bow, particularly food.

Still, the economic history of our country, even of the region, is one of the plantation where capital and technology are imported and the output commodities exported to earn the foreign exchange that the local private sector uses to import/markup/sell goods and services to the population.

Hence, diversification would be a major paradigm shift, one which for the past 50 years is recognised as being desirable given the volatility of our petroleum-based economy.

Yet it has not been achieved. Is this because of the rigidity of the private sector, its inability to adapt from sourcing/selling imports to exporting? Whatever it is, there has to be a government driven initiative to construct this new economy.

Evidence for this kind of initiative is the economic transformations of Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, S Korea that all depended on strong, determined and enlightened leadership of the respective governments.

The question then arises whether government policy should simply be that of a facilitator, for example, providing funding for serendipitous industrial projects of the population at large, eg the “i2i” of the PP Government—a sort of bottom up approach to diversification- or simply encouraging foreign investment?

The basic specification for our diversification as a small open economy is that we have to export to earn the foreign exchange we require, at least to fund the imports that we cannot/do not produce ourselves. Hence, in these export activities we have to be globally competitive and this differentiation is today achieved/maintained via the use of knowledge, its creation and invention/innovation in the products/services we export.

Therefore, one wonders if building a transshipment port locally in competition with Jamaica, Bahamas, Port Houston—Texas, Dominican Republic, Cuba, all clustered in the larger Caribbean area and/or a dry docking facility with the Chinese, make economic sense.

Maybe the real immediate opportunity is in the near-sourcing that reduces transport costs and time, given the rising costs of manufacturing in China, Asia.

There are three ways in which we can achieve such competitiveness: exploiting local comparative advantages, business conceptual innovation and by creating structured advantages.

T&T’s natural/comparative advantages include tropical agriculture, tourism, some oil/gas, culture, an educated and trained labour force with moderate wage/salary demands and even its location.

Business innovation is about the deconstruction and reconstruction of existing business, the use of existing technologies to create new Internet based businesses.

Structured advantage is the use of the results of R&D with the IP protection offered by patents etc.

What is important to note is that simply having a natural/comparative advantage or being able to do something does not make the country globally competitive in the associated industry.

For example, we indeed have a very fine cocoa, Trinitario, but apart from selling the beans on the global market, it needs more if we are to compete with the likes of Cadbury or Toblerone. We need in-depth knowledge, novel products and global market development and marketing.

Still, we have been told by Richard Baldwin in his book, “The Great Convergence”, that instead of an emerging economy building the whole value chain of an industry locally or even initiating it, the globalisation of the value chains by the developed economies (splitting the production process into different modules that are performed in various countries) allows the developing nation to join international production arrangements to become competitive and then industrialise by getting more good jobs inside the international value chain.

Moreso, the highest rewards in the value chain also goes to branding, market development and marketing. This is a natural advantage of the T&T on-shore sector; however, its market focus is local.

Hence, this on-shore sector is a prime choice for business innovation, its deconstruction and reconstruction to focus its activity instead on the regional and global markets.

Indeed, attaching oneself to a link on the global market chain based on local comparative advantage is a quick way to diversify into the export market.

However, in order to move up the reward value chain the developing country in the longer term has to have built its own structured advantage by indigenous R&D, innovation or by branding, marketing and sales.

The playbook for our diversification then is first to identify the natural advantages we possess and their possible uses as leverage to join related global value chains. It is interesting to note that the growing trade model of China with the developing countries, particularly Africa, is not about distributing its product value chain among these countries but in selling cheap goods and procuring from the developing countries, commodities (see Chinese Imperialism in Africa).

Together with this, joining a product value chain, we must start our R&D activity, which should aim at creating knowledge towards innovation into novel products and services.

The immediate task now is a selection exercise, foresighting, since our limited human and capital resources do not allow many disparate areas of endeavour, especially as competitiveness is maintained by R&D/innovation. This approach may be more structured than the serendipitous path, but it does not inhibit the loner who may have a world beating idea, a potential SME.

Still, it is important to note that countries that use knowledge as a competitive advantage are richer/capita that those that use, say, cheap labour.

St Augustine

Categories: News

Better incentives = more investments

Business Guardian - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 01:02

Part I

To become the next ‘hot’ investment opportunity, we need to offer the best incentives available anywhere.

1 Hotel investment fund

The Government needs to establish a hotel investment fund (HIF) of between US$1billion to US$5 billion of equity financing to be used to invest in new hotels on both islands.

It can start by transferring all its existing hotel investments into the fund making up the balance with cash. Raising equity capital for hotel projects is difficult at the best of times. Throughout the Caribbean, there are numerous projects that never get off the ground because prime real estate owners did not have access to equity funding.

These funds should have a fixed low rate of return and could be offered for the first ten years of the project.

The average equity investment from this source should be in the range of 25% of the equity requirement, but should not exceed 49%. This minority shareholding leaves the entrepreneur in control of his project.

Earnings from these investments are returned to the HIF for future investment in other new tourism projects. At the end of ten years, the owner would be required to purchase the government’s investment on very reasonable terms, thus freeing up capital for reinvestment back into the sector.

2 VAT exemption on all materials used in new projects

To attract outside investors to the islands, the cost to build a new plant must be on the same terms as exists in other Caribbean countries.

Failure to remove VAT from new construction means that it costs 12% more to build a new resort in T&T when compared to other Caribbean destinations where VAT does not exist.

Since hotels or land developers do not generate significant VAT invoices, they have no way of recovering the VAT.

3 No duty on FF&E (furniture fixtures and appliances)

All taxes should be removed from the purchase and importation for FF&E on all new and refurbished projects. This is a common practice in all Caribbean destinations.

Although it exists in T&T for hotel investments, it is not available to villas and condominium projects that form a significant part of current trend. The concession should be accessible every 3-5 years.

The key to access this benefit is that the unit must be in an approved rental pool for a minimum of three years.

4 Infrastructure rebate

If a developer is required to put infrastructure in place that would normally be the state’s responsibility, he should be entitled to a tax credit or grant, equal to 100% of the expenditure.

This benefit should also relate to the cost of conducting EIA studies, pre feasibility studies, as well as construction of sewers, roads, water, drains and electrical infrastructure, etc.

5 Tax credit of 25%

This amount, 25%, should be allotted to individuals or corporations on equity investments in new capital approved projects in the tourism sector. They should be deductible in the year that the investment is made.

This would attract equity investors who would normally place their funds elsewhere, perhaps in the stock market where the return is higher or on fixed deposits where the return is certain.

Since it is not expected that any equity investment in the hotel industry will pay dividends in the first 5 years of operation, this tax credit substitutes the lost return during the early days of the enterprise, making the investment competitive.

6 Five-year tax holiday on profits earned from new Investments in the service sector.

Many service institutions are key to the development of a vibrant hotel industry. These include: restaurants, dive shops, boutiques, etc. The tourism authorities will have to develop a list of targeted service companies that are necessary to drive the development of the sector. Concessions should be limited to a fixed number of startups in each sector.

7 Training grant

There should be a 50% matching funds (grant) on all training of workers for new projects.

One of the great challenges in getting projects off the ground is the lack of skilled workers in both the construction and service industries.

Companies need to be encouraged to invest in these areas. All great service companies have continuous training programs, the benefits of which are clearly visible when we interact with them.

Incentives to existing tourism facilities

To encourage growth and the re-vitalisation of existing hotel operations, it is necessary to carry over some of the incentives suggested for new projects. These incentives are additional to what is already offered.

1. TRAINING GRANTS as with new projects, existing hotels and service providers need the 50% matching training (grant) to keep their service outstanding. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the industry is the need to continuously train staff. T&T is not known for great service. To overcome this challenge, the country needs to encourage continuous investment in training. These programs should be approved by the tourism authorities, with the grants distributed on the attainment of the certified skills.

2—DUTY & VAT-FREE CONCESSIONS DUTY and VAT-free allowances on all approved upgrades to existing plant and equipment. This should be a benefit offered on a continuous basis and should be available to all approved industry service providers, accessed every 3 to 5 years depending on the item. This is particularly important to non hotel companies that service the tourism trade.

3. DUTY FREE ON CONSUMABLES. There is a new trend in the region to offer duty-free concessions on consumables for hotels, restaurants and bars which are all now being defined as export industries. This is particularly being requested by all inclusive hotels (such as Sandals) who are constantly looking at ways to improve profit margins. In granting this type of concession, one has to look at the total offering of tax incentives made available to the enterprise before deciding on eliminating the import tax on consumables.

4. TAX HOLIDAY ON REFURBISHMENT. All too often, incentives are directed at encouraging new development with little thought given to revitalising the existing stakeholders. Today, much of the tourism plant on both islands is tired and needs to be refreshed. A 10-year tax-free holiday on earnings should be offered for existing hotels that undertake major refurbishment. These costs can run as high as 25% of the original capital employed. This incentive will encourage owners to reinvest their profits back into their properties.

5. FOREIGN EXCHANGE FINANCE. Around 0.1% of all foreign exchange earned should go into a grant to be used to support the running cost of the islands hotel and tourism associations. These trade associations are the life blood of the industry. This benefit rewards productivity and helps build a sustained fund to grow the industry This incentive rewards performance of those who build the foreign exchange earnings of the country. It will also help reduce the leakage of foreign exchange.

6. PROMOTION AND MARKETING FUND. For the next three years, all of the hotel room tax earned by the state is placed in an advertising and promotion (A&P) fund and bumped up to a max spend of $100 million. It is to be jointly spent by the tourism authorities and the two main hotel associations. This fund will provide a level of stability in terms of sustainable promotion of the destination.

It places marketing funds in the hands of those who have the most to gain, and makes the industry responsible for its own performance. It also ensures that these funds are spent in the most productive way. At the end of the first three years, the guarantee should be removed leaving the room tax collected as the only source of marketing funds. No cap should be placed on this fund for the next ten years.

Whatever changes are agreed to, it is important that the process become dynamic. The new system of incentives must be easy to operate and easy to modify and update, because the industry is constantly evolving. Cutting-edge incentives today can become uncompetitive and obsolete overnight.


Categories: News

Too early to tell, says tax expert

Business Guardian - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:59

Higher energy prices and increased gas production are indicators that the economic climate in the country is improving but Arun Seenath, partner at Deloitte, is adopting a wait-and-see posture on whether T&T is fully in recovery mode.

He wants to see trends over the next two quarters of 2018 before making a definitive statement on the matter.

As he gave his assessment on the mid-year review of the 2018 Budget delivered by Finance Minister Colm Imbert earlier this month, he said: “Unless the minister can give some projection—when they start paying their corporation tax, their petroleum profits tax—that’s when you would see the true impact of revenue coming back from oil and gas.”

In an interview at Deloitte’s Ariapita Avenue headquarters, Seenath said increased gas production could have a trickle-down effect to create employment and trigger increased spending. In fact, at Deloitte, which provides auditing, tax and advisory services to a large local clientele, they have started seeing some signs of growth in sectors of the economy.

“There could be some level of turnaround, but it difficult to say in which sector that has happened,” he said.

“We are mindful that tax rates increased in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The first quarter of 2018 would have been March 2018, you would have seen the impact of the increased taxation rate on the banks which went from 35 per cent.”

This increase might have caused a spike in revenue, he added.

Commenting on the projected reduction in the deficit, he said: “There is need to understand how much Government owes in terms of service providers, in terms of contractors, as well as VAT returns.

“There have been cases where VAT refunds have been paid some have not been paid.”

Millions in property tax lost

Seenath said property tax is a fair source of revenue but, for years, there has been a lot of evasion. He estimates that T&T lost about $300 million for each of the years property tax was not collected.

“Every dollar counts in terms of our deficit and where we are at,” he said.

“When politicians act in this way it is not simply because they are managing the finances, they are also managing their term as a government and those terms come to an end.”

While is hopeful that implementation of the Revenue Authority will lead to improvements in tax collection, Seenath warned that the same issues which hampered the Board of Inland Revenue—corruption, poor productivity, poor efficiency—could lead to leakages.

These inefficiencies must be eradicated of there is to be any real change in T&T’s system of tax and tax collection, he said.

Seenath said consumers have to adjust their spending patterns to accommodate property tax and the possibility of less disposable income. It can no longer he about impulse buying. Instead the focus should be on price versus preference.

He said it was prudent decision not to devalue the dollar since the price of basic items.

“A devaluation would result in a larger price for inputs. The revenue would go up obviously. The net effect would not be as significant, and that is just on the manufacturing side.”

He is of the strong view that those who can afford to pay taxes should be made to pay more, including more of the self employed, such as taxi drivers and doubles vendors.

He advised that the authorities look at ways to include more people in the tax net:

“If a doubles man must sell doubles, he needs to get a food badge. Instead, of a food badge costing $250 it should be $5,000.

“The taxes should be collected through the licences, through the permits.”

Seenath also suggested increasing the fees for taxi drivers to renew their permits.

He fully supports the idea of a National Investment Fund which he said could help to soak up liquidity. The strategy, he said, is to encourage savings by including individual investors.

While he see challenges in the area of foreign direct investment, Seenath is confident that improvements in the economy will attract more investment.

Categories: News

Perfecting her craft

Business Guardian - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:57

Fashion and jewelry designer Cheryl Ryan-Mohammed is proudly flying the T&T flag high in the Middle East with the recent establishment a store at the famous Taj Mall in Amman, Jordan, showcasing her C-Designs collection.

“To be in a location with some of the most famous designers in world is really a privilege. Thank God I got the opportunity. I’m into my second collection at Taj Mall which has my entire line including cashmere pieces blended with crystals,” she said.

It was about 12 years ago that Ryan-Mohammed began her journey into the world of jewelry, designing earring, rings, chains, pendants and full sets using silver and gold-plated material as well as precious and semi-precious stones.

A lover of nature, especially the ocean, Mohammed-Ryan draws on that inspiration for much of her work.

“I have been in fashion for a number of years and what inspires me is our beaches, oceans, rivers. I am also inspired by women. I believe every woman is unique and every woman is beautiful and sophisticated.

“We are a cosmopolitan society where there are various races…all that I draw inspiration from,” she said.

Her designs are also influenced by her love of Middle-Eastern culture and some of the pieces are crafted in collaboration with international designers.

“I am deeply involved with the Middle East. That’s where my attraction is in term of how I think because my stuff has a lot of bling and a lot of working on it and that region appreciates that kind of work in terms of design of jewelry,” Ryan-Mohammed explained.

Crafting jewelry isn’t her only talent.

Ryan-Mohammed also designs beach and Islamic wear which are increasingly in demand internationally. Her hijabs and abayas are elegant and intricately woven, yet fashionable.

“Abayas are the main stay of the Middle East. I love modest wear and in my research the women of the Middle East, they hunger for fashion even though they are covered. They are very sophisticated in covering and it speaks to me. I can easily look at someone and capture an image in my mind of what to sketch and what will appeal to them. “

Having linkages in the Middle East made it easier for Ryan-Mohammed to penetrate that market and this is her second successful year there.

“Before going into it I did my research regarding the market aspect of the Middle East. Also, I have friends there, so when I went in I was well received. I shouldn’t say surprisingly so because we of the Caribbean, we are exciting people and we love colour and they in the Middle East want colour and want to embrace it. 

“When I went into the market they wanted pieces showing that colour. The women of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are into lots of blacks but they also want colour,” she said.

Ryan-Mohammed has just returned from Jordan where she is collaborating with agents in those territories to design coloured Islamic wear.

“There is a segment of women out there who want some excitement in colour. Of course they must cover and I appreciate that as well but especially the young demographic, they want colour. There’s no movement away from the blacks because that tradition is very strong. It will always remain but there is a movement to include colour depending on the occasion,” she said.

C-Designs is set to expand even further as Ryan-Mohammed has just entered the sporting arena and is producing uniforms for one of the largest football clubs in Amman.

“We have two other clubs waiting for us to do designs. They saw my designs and wanted this translated into sport, a shirt specifically,” she explained.

Ryan-Mohammed said her design style is classic. She does not go for fads.

“If I go with a piece I will want my client to wear the piece ten years from now. It has not aged,” she explained.

“Everywhere I go I look for fabric, trimmings. These are the things that excite me and that is where I also draw my inspiration. If I go to an environment and I’m having tea or coffee by the ocean I will rush to get my pen and paper because something triggered me,” she said.

Her love the ocean inspired one of her clothing lines, It’s Ah Wrap, Beach Concepts.

“C-Designs is inspired by the beaches of T&T. I love to be by the beach or the pool with my lipstick and make-up and my jewelry but I must look classy.

“I could not find anything to buy anywhere. What I saw was too mundane. I decided to do it myself and my friends also loved it. The more I travel, the more I got more ideas and the more my brain expanded,” Ryan-Mohammed said.

Apart from markets in Tobago, parts of the Caribbean and the Middle East, Ryan-Mohammed is also expanding to Ghana where there is an agent marketing her pieces.

Although she faces some challenges, including difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange, Ryan does not allow anything to deter her from building on the success of her business. She said the key is to be creative and stay within one’s means.

“If things happen the way it ought to foreign exchange will be coming into Trinidad but, in the meantime, you simply work with what’s available.

“Think big but start small. Take it step by step. That’s what I have been doing. My thinking is wide but in terms of climbing, it’s incremental because as you go along, try to perfect the craft. Don’t take a big junk that you can’t handle.”

Categories: News

Jaggessar leads Pres to final

Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:40

National under-15 opener Justin Jaggessar turned in a fine all-round performance that lead Presentation College, Chaguanas to the PowerGen Secondary Schools Central Zone Under-14 title on Wednesday.

Jagessar grabbed three wickets for 14 runs to restrict Vishnu Boys to 95 for six off the allotted 24 overs. Vishnu Boys depending a lot on national Under-15 captain Rajiv Ramnath got a deadly blow early in the game, as the right-hander was bowled by Adam Furlonge without scoring. At this point, Presentation College took control and never relinquished its hold. Zachary Dookree battled for a while to top score with 20 including two fours before he was cleaned up by Jaggessar.

Alex Ramlal was the next best bat for Vishnu Boys with 12.

Jaggessar got three wickets in his four overs and was well supported by Furlonge and Brandon Deonarine both of whom took one wicket for eight runs from six impressive overs.

When Pres took to the crease Jaggessar opened the batting and took control. He started off his innings with a four and continued to dominate to the extent that his school ran away winners by seven wickets. Jaggessar counted 34 runs which included two fours before he was bowled by Ramnath. Ravinda Ramlal was the pick of the Vishnu bowlers taking two wickets for eight runs.

Presentation will now enter into the national playoffs, which is expected to take place next week. The South final will play on Wednesday when Naparima College comes up against Presentation San Fernando at Woodland Recreation ground.


Vishnu Boys 95/6 (24) (Zachary Dookree 20, Alex Ramlal 12, Justin Jaggessar 3/14) vs Presentation College Chaguanas 97/3 (Justin Jaggessar 34, Ravinda Ramlal 2/8) - Presentation College won by 7 wickets.

Categories: News

Howsweetitis romps home in Feature

Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:38

Champion trainer John O’Brien returned with a bang yesterday when he saddled Howsweetitis to win the feature Modified Benchmark Handicap over 1,500 Metres on the turf track at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.

O’Brien showed his class as a conditioner as he brought Howsweetitis back from the ten-month break to defy his lengthy absence.

Nela Mohammed aboard Howsweetitis rode the five-year-old brown gelding with confidence and outbattled the favourite Rock In Peace to score by a 1/2 length.

The Great Friends owned Howsweetitis was well supported at 2-1 to win but had to battle hard and long to get the better of the Glenn Mendez-trained favourite Rock In Peace which lost nothing in defeat.

Magical Victory was 1 1/2 lengths back in third place Root of Jesse finished fourth.

The winner registered the good time of 1:30.54 for the trip.

This was just fractionally off the record which is held by Magical Victory of 1:29.4.

Though the feature was competitive and interesting, it had to play second fiddle to the performance of the ‘Triple Crown’ seeking General JN from the John Leotuad barn.

Punters sent the 2018 Guineas winner off at the prohibitive odds of 1-5 and he obliged to like the champion which he is by winning unchallenged by 12 1/2 length with jockey Brian Boodramsing doing precious little.

The well-bred Jamaican chestnut colt by Forest Danger/Sea Treaty was challenged by the speedy Maha Raja for 600 metres before asserting and running away in the final 300 metres to win as he liked in the time of 1:11.97. General JN looks very difficult to oppose in the Midsummer Classic the second leg of local racing’s Triple Crown.

In the final event on the eight race-card, the Glenn Mendez trained Streaking Far showed that she will be ready to come up against General JN in the Classic. She ran a full two second faster than she did two starts ago over the 1750 metres distance.

The days leading rider was Nela Mohammed who rode a double on the card.

No trainer was able to land more than one winner.

Categories: News

Jabloteh, Stars clash after coaches swap sides

Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:36

A recent switch of coaches Gilbert Bateau and Kevin Jeffrey to the Under-18 sides of North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh respectively could bait emotions when both sides meet this afternoon from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, Arima for a place in the final of the inaugural Flow Youth Pro League Cup on May 27.

“For the players, it will be highly emotional,” said new Jabloteh U18 coach Kevin Jeffrey, who only three weeks ago was still an employee of North East Stars and coach of the club’s U18 team.

“A lot of the (Stars) players have been calling me saying they missed the style of play, my persona and the way I passed on my knowledge of the game to them. And now they have to come up against me, someone they enjoyed playing under.”

Last month Gilbert Bateau vacated the posts of Jabloteh first team assistant coach and head coach of the U18s to reunite with Zoran Vranes after the Yugoslav-born coach returned to Trinidad to join North East Stars as head of coaching on an initial one-year agreement, subject to a work permit.

Bateau accepted the role as assistant coach in all divisions including the Stars’ first team under Vranes who he had served under with the Trinidad and Tobago team at the 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Egypt and Olympic qualifiers with the U23s in 2011.

Meanwhile, Bateau said he expects his now former charges (Jabloteh U18s) to be professional enough to put up a strong challenge on semi-final Sunday. He too said his former players were disappointed in his departure.

“My move to North East Stars is strictly in the interest of development of players,” explained Bateau. “North East Stars’ plans are exactly what I hoped Jabloteh had done. We (at Jabloteh) were creating the most amount of players to fit into the [first] team but that wasn’t happening. I have no ill feelings for Jabloteh because I am still open to communication with the club.

“The plans at North East Stars to develop the players and progress them through our teams is what I’ve always wished for at Jabloteh. The focus must be to try to develop the players at best. For instance, when they go abroad on trials they shouldn’t come back. Too many times players are coming back because they lack technique. So the arrangement put forward by North East Stars for development of the football where the players benefit most, is the reason I made the switch,” ended Bateau, father of recent North East Stars signing Sean Bateau and Kazakhstan-based T&T international Sheldon Bateau.

Jabloteh’s Under-14 and Under-16 FYPL league winners also advanced to Sunday’s semi-finals and will take on Defence Force and Point Fortin Civic respectively from 10 am and 2 pm at the same Malabar venue.

At Mannie Ramjohn Stadium (training field 1) in Marabella, Point Fortin Civic must face W Connection in the U14 age group (10 am) and Club Sando will tackle Police FC in the U16 division (2 pm) before the U18 sides of Police and Connection lock horns (4 pm).


Under-14 Division
San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force, 10 am Larry Gomes Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic vs W Connection, 10 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.
Under-16 Division
San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic, 2 pm at Larry Gomes Stadium;
Club Sando vs Police FC, 2 pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.
Under-18 Division
San Juan Jabloteh vs North East Stars, 4 pm at Larry Gomes Stadium;
Police FC vs W Connection, 4 pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.

Categories: News

Do we really understand the impact of sports tourism?

Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:33

It is high time that we start to recognise what sports tourism is and move away from talking a good talk about how much we as a country want to embark on a sports tourism drive.

But the question lies, do we fully understand what is sports tourism? While this is an important aspect, it is not just the experience of travel to engage in or view sport-related activities. Travelling to engage in activities or attracting foreign athletes and teams is what we’ve tend to focused on but there are other components that might worth the while tapping into. Tourism’s economic impact is one of the most researched but least understood areas of tourism. Sports tourism inevitably affects more than the economy; tourists by their presence impact on the host population and, at least in some regards, hosts have an effect on their visitors.

It is generally recognised that there are three types of sports tourism: Sports Event Tourism, Active Sports Tourism, and Nostalgia Sports Tourism.

Sports event tourism is self-explanatory really. It can range from CPL cricket to Rugby Sevens, Cycling on the Avenue to Caribbean Cup football. Some events often overlooked are amateur sporting events.

Active Sports Tourism entails travelling to other destinations to participate in events. And no, it’s not our athletes and officials or fans becoming a tourist of a certain destination because of the fact that we are visitors for the period. What it is or should be is we as nationals using the opportunity to market what we have to offer in T&T. So perhaps, leading team members or designated staff can be assigned the roles of marketing the T&T brand.

For instance, the cricket teams can, through press briefings on location in an overseas destination, or through courtesy visits or meetings with stakeholders, use the opportunity to attract the hosts to the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, the Queen’s Park Oval or simply let them know what an attraction it would be to engage in a sporting activity in the land of Sand, Sea and Sunshine. Football could now market its own Home of Football, or the other stadia in Marabella, Malabar or Tobago. Athletics could lure the foreigners into visiting T&T for a training camp to try and discover the secret behind the success of Keshorn Walcott.

Then there is nostalgia sports tourism which involves travelling to and also welcoming and entertaining visitors to famous sport-related attractions such as events and venues. This is where we could be a real force. This is where we need to step up our game. This is the part of sports tourism that can strengthen national heritage, identity, and community spirit as local people join together to promote their own culture.

Forgive me if I’m unaware, but there is hardly anything about the Brian Lara Academy that is mind-blowing when it comes to history. Last year I had a colleague visiting from India for three days and top of his bucket list was visiting the Brian Lara stadium. All he wanted was the chance to take photos at the venue and was willing to pay at least $200 TT to access the venue. Unfortunately, there were no events happening at the time but that’s the thing. Why couldn’t there be a museum type setting with a tour guide that allows patrons both local and foreign, to pay a small fee and get the chance to experience the venue and get the chance to purchase paraphernalia of West Indies Cricket and Lara?

Credit to Brian himself for having a temporary set-up near the Queen’s Park Oval during the 2017 CPL. Think of how excited we are to take stadium tours of Manchester United or Barcelona for those of us who get to travel. It is the same manner in which we must think of our own.

Another experience I had a couple years ago was a British partner Danny booking a flight to Tobago just only for the opportunity to visit the Dwight Yorke Stadium. Sadly for him, there was nothing other than a sign on the scoreboard signifying “Dwight Yorke”. Imagine how much a small viewing room with images of Yorke and an area for photo ops would be an attraction to someone like Danny. I regularly interact with visiting sporting officials and journalists who ask about Hasely Crawford. Who he is? What did he achieve? There is nothing other than a window image at the VIP lounge and something you would easily walk by without noticing on the lower floor of the covered stand’s entrance. It is more than placing some images on a wall and calling it a Wall of Fame.

Once we can make these improvements without expecting an overnight return in $$, then it should become mandatory that these are included on a list of attractions for visitors either at the various hotels or in-flight.

Editor’s Note: Shaun Fuentes is a media trainer, coaching athletes how to present themselves before cameras and how to handle the microphone. He has travelled for work in over 75 countries and was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He also serves as a CONCACAF Events Media operations officer.

Categories: News

South East romps to finals in thriller

Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:26

T&T Red Force left-handed batsman Jeremy Solozano struck a 132 runs but left the Brian Lara Academy a disappointed player as East lost to South East by two wickets under the Duckworth/Lewis method in the first of the semi-finals of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) Senior Interzone 50 overs Tournament yesterday.

With the rain playing cat and mouse with the players for the entire day, the game was a stop-start one. However, this did not deter Solozano as he took East to a commanding 227 for four off 36 overs when its innings ended.

South East fought well and was always in the game and entered the last over bowled by Rayad Emrit needing three runs. The lanky pacer sent back Daniel St. Clair but with the scores level bowled a wide and the game was over with one ball to spare.

Earlier, Solozano’s innings of 127 balls comprised 12 fours and four sixes. He got support from Isaiah Rajah, who scored 36 and an unbeaten 18 from Lendl Simmons, as East closed on a score that they would have fancied defending.

However, it was not to be as South East got a half-century opening stand from Navin Bedaisee and Cephas Cooper that set the tone. Bedaisee scored 46 off 59 balls with seven fours, while Cooper made 39 off 33 with four fours and two sixes. However, the gem came from Cooper’s elder brother and skipper Akeil, who made 84 not out to steer his team to victory. Set to get 237 under the DL Method, South East reached home with Cooper’s 84 coming off 54 balls with three fours and six sixes.

Today, the second semi-finals between powerhouses Central and North will take place at the same venue starting at 10 am. Central will be looking to skipper Denesh Ramdin to lead the fight, as well as the inform Imran Khan and Mark Deyal. The left-handed Deyal has been destructive scoring 120 runs at an average of 60.00 while taking four wickets at an economy rate of just three.

North, on the other hand, will be depending on Queen’s Park pair of Darren Bravo and Joshua Da Silva. The latter has been in rich form all season and slapped 174 in the opening Interzone match against Tobago.


At Lara Academy: East 227/4 (36) (Jeremy Solozano 132, Isaiah Rajah 36) vs South East 237/8 (35.5) (Akeil Cooper 84no, Navin Bedaisee 46, Cephas Cooper 39, Vikash Rampersad 25, Terrence Hinds 4/27, Vikash Mohan 2/26) - South East won by 2 wickets.


North vs Central at Lara Academy at 10 am.

Categories: News


Sports - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:21

A dominant performance by T&T’s senior women’s team earned them a flying start in the Caribbean Women’s qualifiers tournament at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, last night. The host registered a 10-0 drubbing of United States Virgin Islands (USVI) in the feature match of a double at the ‘Home of Football’.

Midfielder Marian Shade led the way with a beaver-trick and was the provider for a few others.

Patrice Superville got the opener in the 16th minute when Kedie Johnson’s left side centre trickled the defence and fell into the path of Superville to shoot past goalkeeper Levania Lawrence.

Skipper Tasha St Louis was a shadow of herself for most of the night. However, she produced a touch of magic in the 34th minute, splitting the USVI defence with a telling through pass to Shade to take aim and place perfectly past the goalie.

Midfielder Karyn Forbes then lifted the crowd to its feet with the goal of the game. The powerful player pulled away from her marker on the left side and curled her right-footer into the far post in the 36th.

Later St Louis, who had been guilty of a few easily missed chances in the past, finally beat Lawrence three minutes later. And before the USVI defence could regroup, Shade got her second item when she fired past a stranded Lawrence a few seconds after.

The home team then completed a 6-0 halftime advantage when Jenelle Cunningham saw Lawrence napping and beat her with a long-range effort in the 44th.

After the break the hardworking Kedie Johnson received her reward, meeting Shade’s right side cross sweetly on the header in the 61st for a 7-0 lead, but there was still more to come.

Forbes curled the ball past Lawrence from a corner on the left in the 69th before Shade raced on to a loose ball in the area to beat the keeper with a fierce shot into the far post for her hat-trick in the 77th.

The speedy winger then closed out got her beaver-trick on the stroke of regulation time.


Categories: News

Still in the potter’s hands

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:12

I wonder how many of us wearing those beautiful gold chains, bracelets, rings or watches really gave any thought how it became that wonderful treasure you now own. It will amaze you to know the process the raw gold from the earth had to go through to present itself in those showcases all around the world. Time, machinery, human resource, and money, just naming a few components, all work together to produce those ornaments that we will purchase for thousands of dollars.

The very same way gold must go through many processes to become as attractive as it is, so too we as human beings in order for the best to come out of us at times we must constantly be in the potter’s hand. The process is never over for us as we are daily being moulded, shaped, and fashioned by God. A true revelation of this will cause you to ignore all your critics and those who try to judge you from where you stand at present. They can only see the present but the Father sees the beginning to the end.

Jesus in His selection of His 12 disciples did not choose the best people around at the time and I believe He did it purposely. After all, Peter the fisherman, whose language was not the most sophisticated when you may have rubbed him the wrong way, may not have been my choice if it was up to me. But what was important is that the disciples were now in the potter’s hand and that made a world of difference. Allow the chief potter to make you into that person you were meant to be. In Jeremiah 29:11 it states, “I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) The Lord is all about your success.

Just as gold go through some rigorous processes which involves intense heat, it is the same way the potter may have to allow us to go through certain situations and circumstances to bring us to that desired standard. Every new level in life will have its test but what is assuring is that once you remain in the potter’s hand He will prepare you for it. We read in James 1: 3 and 4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” When your faith is tested, patience develops and patience having her perfect work also assists in maturing you.

I encourage you, do not allow the small discomfort or inconvenience at this present moment to dampen your spirit, for you are still in the potter’s hand, the process is not over. But this I do know, He that begun a good thing in you will complete it. As gold is admired by everyone you too will shine in your season. God bless you.

Elder Arnold Gopeesingh

Categories: News

Bankruptcy protection is so relevant

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:10

When I proposed Trinidad’s Bankruptcy Proceedings legislation to the Government in 2006 following the embarrassing seizure of BWIA’s aircraft in Miami due to non-payment to its lessors and it became law following swift passage in Parliament, I really expected the term “Bankruptcy Proceedings” would be promulgated to our business and private consumers via an education system allowing them to fully grasp its prodigious benefits should their circumstances ever desire it.

I also expected attorneys would have educated themselves and market this necessary service to protect clients from Trinidad’s one size fit all triple “A”-only expectations from our inherently parochial bankers and other financial facilitators who would malevolently destroy a borrower no longer favourable to their balance sheet.

Although the word “bankruptcy” may sound unpleasant to Trinidad’s archaically closed-minded society, it can be much like scriptural revelation in that it is both powerful and compassionate towards honest businesses and private consumers experiencing temporary financial challenges.

A bankruptcy proceeding would not disregard a business or private individual unable to maintain timely payments, nor negate debts bereft of honouring them. It, however, protects them from the paradigm of Trinidad’s illiberal and vindictive lenders, provide them breathing space through consolidation while protecting their assets and life’s work from stealth, malice, and of being grabbed and sold at auction, many times through inside leaks to trusted friends and distant families.

Say you have assets worth $5M and owe your lender $2M they sued you for, they would obtain judgment against you hastily selling your entire portfolio for under $1 M. If it’s a company, they would sue all the directors for shortfalls spitefully refiling continual judgments so the individuals would never recover via obtaining funding elsewhere, unless of course you are a well-connected politician and a consortium of bankers can writes off and forgive your $30M loan on a “failed” South mall, re-establishing all privileges.

Bankruptcy procedures are not slam-dunk favourable to any one side. If you are an honest borrower you will be protected from the sole objectives of sharks by petitioning a special bankruptcy court wherein the bankruptcy judge would appoint a trustee who acts as an impartial referee between lender and borrower, overseeing the entire proceedings, examining the petitioner’s assets and lender’s claim to determine viability, avoiding system abuse.

All types of people have gotten into financial difficulties since the invention of money and at the pinnacle of your success many unscrupulous banking employees would push “attractive” loans and credit cards on you just to meet their quotas, but bankruptcy protection is beneficial to good business practices and available in all enlightened countries. All levels of corporate and individual consumers have sought its protection including very successful fortune 500 companies, Macy’s, Airlines, Ford Motors, Sears, Payless Shoes, Radio Shack, etc, and personal albeit successful individuals like Donald Trump, Movie Stars, Oscar Wilde, Walt Disney, and other famous celebrities, all of whom, had they been denied protection from hasty and cruel annihilation, would not be around today providing goods and services, employing people, paying taxes, and being good corporate citizens, many even doing philanthropic deeds.

There are variations of bankruptcy protection, some referred to as “Creditor in Control” which would return the business to the owners who, once nurtured back to good financial health, can rebuild their credit worthiness and not be mendicants starving at the buffet table. Bankruptcy is not the end of one’s financial world but a new start which can save families and corporations by allowing them to access certain assets while sorting themselves, and they need not be embarrassed about being responsible since seeking workable solutions for survival is the goal transforming honest citizens with genuine financial challenges from their burden of debt to productive members of society.

If Trinidad is really serious about becoming the financial capital of the Caribbean it must urgently change its accepted narrow-minded and destructive banking culture by creating real competition for economic growth via granting licences to matured and creative global banks. Trinidad’s lenders are so limited through their grossly over-esteemed “fit and proper” infallibility that they have no conception about sub-prime lending in which honest citizens cleared from bankruptcy can still be creative business geniuses advancing from their errors as against being permanently destroyed.

• Trevor Hosten is an entrepreneur and consumer's advocate, and founder of Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) which petitioned Government for and obtained Trinidad's Banking Ombudsman (now the Financial Services Ombudsman) and the Bankruptcy & Insolvency ACT of 2006."

Trevor Hosten

Categories: News

The spirit of elitism

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:09

Lord Roseberry in 1884 described the British Empire as a ‘Commonwealth of Nations.’ Unlike the United Nations, however, it cannot impose sanctions on members since they all have an equal say, regardless of size or economic stature.

This affords the members a voice in international politics and influence in diplomatic circles which they might not otherwise have. Elizabeth II is the head of this loose alliance of commonwealth states with a market size of 2.4 billion people.

Distilling the key ingredients of elite societies like the EU is critical to unravelling club operations. First, goods and services are ‘excludable’. Only members can hope to drink the best vintage claret at a non-vintage price. Members of the EU have a single market and only members can be part of the single currency. Goods and services are ‘congestible’. That is, each member imposes some kind of externality on other club members to guarantee that measures agreed upon do not become counterproductive.

Increasing membership can reduce agreement on common policies and this produces disgruntlements like Brexit. Finally, the goods and services provided are ‘divisible’. That is, if the club becomes overcrowded, similar upper-crust citadels can be formed along roughly the same principles. Thus along London’s Pall Mall one can find a string of clubs including the ‘Reform’. The lavish have more in common regardless of their respective national, religious or racial identities and are vividly aware that, along with happiness, money also buys power. The well-heeled maintain their members’ clubs to keep all things in their proper places. At the Athenaeum in London membership is inherited. People belonging to the much venerated Windrush generation therefore have slim hopes of ever becoming members. White’s on St James’s Street is secreted away in Piccadilly.

The club remains of the male-only persuasion and a plethora of royals are presently members. It remains an enclave of tradition nestled in the bosom of modern London. A laudable collection of private societies full of retired politicians and captains of industry grace London’s Pall Mall and St James’s, through to, for example, the IMF, the OECD, and the EU. The EU is not the only free trade club in history.

The CSME, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and President Xi Jinping’s vast “Belt and Road” infrastructure project are similar clubs. In 1941 the Chaguaramas Convention Centre was constructed for army personnel of the United States arriving to build the OMEGA Tracking Station, a hospital, a degaussing range, a Submarine Base in Macqueripe, and Air Force bases in Trinidad. On July 4, 1973, the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre—the exact date on which the United States of America celebrates its independence. The statesmanship and brinkmanship of Dr Eric Williams positioned the West Indies between history and hope, as on that day a Caribbean Single Market ‘Members’ Club’ was established within the UK’s greater Commonwealth of Nations.

Prior to this treaty, The Federation of the West Indies (FWI) was established. It was a short-lived political union that aimed to create ‘One Dominion’ among the Caribbean islands similar to the Canadian Confederation, the Australian Commonwealth, or the dissolved Central African Federation; however, before that could happen, it collapsed. The federal capital of the club was to be located in T&T. Federation Park—a residential neighbourhood—was built to house delegates of the Federal Parliament of the West Indies Federation. The streets of the Park were named for the various territories which made up the Federation.

The Federal government was to be headed by an Executive Governor-General, a Prime Minister, a Cabinet, a Council of State that included the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet, as well as three senators and three civil servants, a 45-member House of Representatives, with members elected from among the territories, and a 19-member Senate. On its agenda were matters pertaining to taxation, central planning for development, the establishment of a Regional Customs Union, a Federal Civil Service and West Indies Shipping. It had embarked on negotiations to acquire the subsidiary of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), namely British West Indies Airways (BWIA), and tertiary education was consolidated and expanded. The then University College of the West Indies (UCWI), which was established in 1948 with one campus in Jamaica, opened its second campus at St Augustine, T&T, in 1960. Within this grand narrative, the Chaguaramas Convention Centre could have easily evolved into the Berlaymont of the West Indies.

Categories: News

Provoking conflict in the Middle East

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:08

United States President Donald Trump removes his country from an international anti-nuclear arrangement with Iran at the same time that he seeks to have the North Korean President Kim Jong-un agree to a denuclearization agreement. Is there consistent logic in such a move?

The answer must be “no,” more so that the North Korean President has built up a reputation for intransigence, defiance of the West, and notably always having agendas outside of those negotiated.

On the other hand, the Iranian leadership, has, as testified to by the major western powers (this American president apart) France, the United Kingdom, Germany and others, kept its side of the arrangement to eliminate Teheran’s nuclear programme and ambitions.

Further, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with its nuclear weapons inspection team has made frequent visits to Iran and has reported to the rest of the world that Iran has indeed kept to the agreement to eliminate its nuclear programme.

If, therefore, there is an absence of consistent logic with President Trump taking his country out of the Iranian agreement while hanging on to Jong-un’s unreliable and always changing word, then you have to search for Trump’s pursuits elsewhere.

Analyses of Trump’s rationale in international media have concluded on a few of his objectives:

One, he is absolutely committed to erasing every policy and major decision of his predecessor, ie, the Iranian denuclearization programme.

Two, President Trump is clearly in league with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to keep Iran, perhaps the only Muslim country in the Middle East capable of mounting a serious attack on Israel, under the gun, off-balance, in a state of turmoil, with a weakened economy robbed of the benefit of its denuclearization agreement.

Three, the US president has been angling for a long time now to further enhance spending on US military capability already streets ahead of all other military powers. The provocative and imbalanced move to site the US embassy in Jerusalem without some compensating reward to the Palestinians is one sure means of provoking open conflict in the Middle East.

The trap being set is for Iran to take offensive action against Israel (perhaps in relation to Syria and the Palestinian protests) and for Teheran to rescind the denuclearization agreement. If such an explosive situation were to evolve in the Middle East, Trump will then have ideal justification for his military spending programme, such a programme will bring big rewards for American arms manufacturers who will then return tribute to Trump’s re-election campaign.

Trump is far from being the “dumbo” he is painted to be in certain quarters; but he is “sharp as a tack” in such matters as sponsoring the agenda for the privileged and seeking to assemble an international reputation which he believes will serve well his domestic political interests.

To carry out his agenda of aggression on selected targets, Trump has fortified his armoury with hawks such as Pompeo, Secretary of State, Haspel–CIA chief, and Bolton–National Security Adviser. On the critical issue of the free circulation of assault weapons, Trump has resisted the student movement against guns and put forward a plan to arm a battalion of teachers and guards. The result, more sales of weapons for his backers, the gun manufacturers, and sellers.

Instead of “draining the swamp” of the corporate lobbyists, Trump’s lawyer/fixer has been raking in millions from large corporations wanting to peddle influence in the White House.

Readers of this column’s continuing insistence on comprehensive reform of T&T’s campaign financing laws to prevent the purchase of political power (the complete erosion of the franchise of the ordinary voter) by big capital should take note of current revelations in the US.

Categories: News

Changing the guard at the CCJ

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:07

The CCJ changed its guard at the farewell session of the court in Antigua last week for Sir Dennis Byron who ended his judicial career and handed the reins over to Mr Justice Adrian Saunders.

This will usher in a new era for the CCJ and there are ongoing matters of status and titles that will pass on to Justice Saunders that were hallmarks of the tenure of both Michael de la Bastide and Sir Dennis. One of these major issues is whether or not the convention of having the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice sworn in as a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, as was done in the cases of Michael de la Bastide and Sir Dennis.

It is extremely awkward to talk about moving from the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council and embracing the CCJ as the final court of appeal if this is going to be the example shown at the top. The other issue of concern is the matter of the President of the CCJ being knighted if that person comes from a Caricom country that still uses the British honours system as part of its national awards. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, and St Lucia have all instituted a system of absorbing the knighthood into their national honours. This means that the title has been assimilated into the Caribbean psyche in some countries so that the highest awards can still be “Sir” and “Dame,” but just not awarded at an investiture held by Queen Elizabeth II.

The deeper issue being analysed here is the intertwining of the CCJ with the British honours system or its regional reproductions and the extent to which the knighthood is regarded as the gold standard of public affairs accomplishment in our region.

There are still countries besides Barbados, Belize, Dominica, and Guyana that have not yet acceded to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, while all countries of Caricom belong to its original jurisdiction. This issue of knighthoods and membership of Her Majesty’s Privy Council cannot be treated lightly as it goes to the core of the identity of the court.

There is another matter that was reported to the police in T&T in a criminal complaint last October regarding membership of the Regional Judicial and Legal Service Commission which has not been reported in the local press. This is a very serious matter as the complaint was made and threats of a libel action have made in retaliation to the person who made the complaint. Justice Saunders may have to keep a wary eye on this as he assumes office as President of the CCJ and the local police need to do their work expeditiously to make a determination in this matter soon.

The CCJ debate is going to continue as there have been statements out of Grenada that suggest that the Government will make another attempt to reform the constitution to abolish the Privy Council and replace it with the CCJ after it was rejected in a referendum in November 2016.

The reality is that Grenada is an interesting test case for the abolition of the Privy Council as it had been removed during the tenure of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) by People’s Law No 84 in 1979. After the collapse of the PRG and the holding of a general election in December 1984, the new Government validated the abolition of the Privy Council in 1985. However, once the murder trials involving some of the former revolutionaries had been completed, the then government of Grenada re-joined the Privy Council in 1991.

What will happen this time around will be interesting to observe as there was only a 32 per cent turnout in the last referendum and a majority voted against having the CCJ as the final court of appeal.

Categories: News

Moët in the brass casket

Columnists - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 00:06

Fictional diary entry of the widow of a gang leader in Trinidad.

“The nights is the worst. De chirren sleepin in we bed now but I still feel the empty space where you use to sleep with your mind awake, one finger on the trigger to keep we safe. You was still warm when they call me to show your body pumpin with bullets.

Your funeral was better that Pablo Escobar, your hero. Thousands come to pay their respect. I line up de whole street with all of we luxury car, music trucks playing Puff Daddy songs.

I dress you in white, cover you in gold with chain and medallians. I throw buckets of Moët champagne in your brass casket. I put your Timberland boots in de casket. It went in de fire with you. Nobody else could fill your boots, you hear.

You is de boss of de world. I tell de chirren, don’t cry in front of people like you always tell me. Fear. They will use it against you. So I stand there holdin it in till you was ashes.

People telling me, girl, take your young children and go, just get out, as if it that easy. Just go, Venezuela, Miami, just go. They kill your husband, they go come for you. I not leavin. I is not no fugitive. I didn’t do nothing wrong. You didn’t do nothing wrong neither. The papers say you live like a criminal, get gun down like a criminal. You work harder than all of them.

We was schoolchildren when we get together. A hunger in me, meet the hunger in you. Hunger for somebody to take care of we, for fame and power.

They feel it have only one type of people, with house, lunch kit, and mommies taking chirren to school and daddies workin and helpin with homework.

Like Indrani, in we class before we drop out. She is a big engineer in the oil company. She parents feel they better than we. But they were poor like we. When they see we hustlin she modder use to say “everybody makes choices” like they reach and we stupid. They skrimp and save to send she UWI.

So what, we is not people too?

We, you and me, didn’t get none of that. Nobody saving for we, nobody telling we to study. Nobody putting air-condition in we bedroom. Nobody coming to no PTA meeting.

We bathe by de standpipe every other day. We hustle on the hot highway for a few dollars. But you smarter than all them book people.

You see them politicians use to come by we, sniffing, offering we a bone around elections. Once they get we vote, they never come around again. We only seeing them in their big SUV with the sirens, racing past red light on the highway with dey glass up like we is not people. How they get away with theifing and people does call them Honourable, and you, who help thousands, give money, jobs, and hamper to de poor get call a criminal?

You take them boys, with no fadder, no hope, no education, no water, no electricity, no jobs, in wooden house and you was fadder to them. You give them a gun, white powder, and show them they is people too. Some dead, some wasted, but you do more for thousands of people than all of dem. You get more respect too. More gun than police, bigger house than high society people, more money than business magnate.

True you beat me till I get mash up but you know boy you no worse than them society people who does get beat and hide it. I shoulda just walk into dat pyre with you but I have we chirren to see about. These nights, when bullets so close, I think about Indrani mother saying ‘everybody makes choices’, like we ever had a choice.”

A 2012 United Nations Development Report declared that ‘gangs are the new law in urban T&T. In 2017 T&T police estimated there are some 211 gangs with 2,458 members in T&T, and calculated over a thousand gang-related murders between 2010 to 2017.

Categories: News

Modification work on Galleons Passage

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:52

Modification work was expected to begin yesterday on the Galleons Passage, following its arrival in Panama last week.

Arriving on schedule in Balboa on Wednesday, the vessel was boarded by the Canal Port Captain who identified the modifications to be made and which were in keeping with Canal requirements.

Officials of the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) on Friday confirmed that a contractor had visited the boat on Thursday to assess the modifications required.

Following this exercise, the contractor subsequently submitted the modification plans to the authorities for approval.

The approval was received on Friday and work was expected to begin yesterday, once the weather improved. The modification works are expected to be completed by today.

Nidco said once the boat passed inspection, it would be advised of its scheduled time to transit the Canal.

It is estimated that the vessel will pass through the Canal on or around May 23.

Once this schedule is followed, officials estimated that the Galleons Passage should arrive in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, by Saturday, good weather permitting

Categories: News

THA to phase out styrofoam use on island

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:51

The Tobago House of Assembly says it is taking steps to phase out the use of styrofoam on the island and is working with the private sector to do so on a voluntary basis.

THA official Linford Beckles told a Joint Select Committee of Parliament inquiring into waste management policies that while under the current constitutional arrangements the THA did not have the legislative clout to make changes, it was working outside the ambit of the law to address the problem.

He said while there were currently no taxes on styrofoam products coming into T&T, there were taxes on “environmental friendly alternatives,” which he said did not “align with environmental ideals and there was clear need for that to be addressed.”

One of the ways, according to Beckles, is through legislation.

He said: “It is incumbent on us to make structured appeals to our counterparts in Trinidad to assist in this initiative.”

Beckles said there was a willingness to work in that direction. He said the THA was currently working with the Castara Tourism Association to make Castara the first styrofoam free village. The assembly is also working with the Crown Point Partnership Association to make Crown Point a much greener area, and the expectation was that on World Environment Day a few businesses would totally phase out the use of styrofoam and turn to alternatives.

Beckles said the THA was looking at two alternatives to replace the styrofoam, one bagasse based and the other corn based, both of which originated from the United States.

He said the Ministry of Planning was working with corporate interests who produced styrofoam to assist in retooling plants to manufacture the containers in Trinidad and Tobago.

Director of Operations of Ace Recycling Kevin Clarke told the Committee that the company was the largest waste paper recycling plant in the country and recycled 14 million pounds of paper annually.

He said the paper was collected at various locations throughout the country, brought back to the facility, sorted into grades, bailed into half tonne bales, and shipped across the world to be used as feedstock.

The cost per metric tonne for the paper is between US$50 to US$300 depending on the grade.

The company also supplies material to the tissue mill at the Arima Industrial Estate.

“They take the higher grade paper to make a recycled product,” Clarke said.

Categories: News


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