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TTUTA, NPTA claim schools forced to operate without basic supplies

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:49

Primary schools across the country are facing a financial crisis as they are yet to receive any Direct Funding for the 2017/2018 academic year. Officials have warned that if the situation is not rectified soon, it could negatively impact schools’ reopening in September.

The allocation, usually disbursed at the beginning of the academic year, is used to purchase toiletries, stationery, and cleaning supplies.

President of the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai said “Right now, it is the goodwill of principals, parents, and teachers that are propping up our primary schools and keeping them afloat and that shouldn’t be.”

This sentiment was echoed by National Primary Schools’ Principals Association President Cogland Griffith, who said the matter was last raised with officials of the Ministry of Education during their monthly stakeholder meeting in April.

He said, “The majority of schools have not received the allocation which is supposed to be given on a yearly basis. We have been told that monies were allocated but it went to pay suppliers who were not paid last year.

“That puts us in a place where we are without supplies and we are running very low in some instances. At some schools we don’t have supplies and principals are complaining to us about it.”

Griffith said principals were experiencing an overwhelming sense of frustration, especially as the academic year is due to end in the first week of July.

Appealing for an urgent meeting with Education Minister Anthony Garcia to discuss the issue, Griffith said it was unacceptable that 500 primary schools in both islands were forced to operate without “basic supplies.”

This number includes government-run and government-assisted schools.

He said his association would also be affected as they would be unable to properly satisfy accounting procedures detailing their expenditure for the past year and also their requisition for the coming year.

“The ministry should find the funds to purchase the necessary things for us.”

Agreeing with Doodhai, he said “It is not our responsibility to ask parents to get those supplies.”

Concerned that the lack of funding was also affecting teaching and learning outcomes, both Griffith and Doodhai said school officials have been forced to come up with creative ways to raise funds and as such, they have been spending valuable time outside of the classroom.

He said, “Our teachers have to manage a curriculum along with other duties and responsibilities, and we can’t be taken up to go outside and raise funds which means they will lose valuable teaching time. It is not part of our remit to raise funds.”

Confirming a handful of schools in the South-Eastern Education District had received funding for 2017/2018, Griffith said no schools in the Port-of-Spain and Environs Education District and the Caroni Education District had received any funding for the year.

He said, “We cannot contemplate what will happen in September, unless we ask parents to supply or go on a drive which is not something we should be doing to raise funds.”

Asked when last this situation had occurred, Griffith said “I can’t even remember any other time when we didn’t get funding for so long.”

He said “This is a dire situation and it needs to be addressed urgently because if it isn’t, we will not have the basic materials to run schools and if we do open, we will have to solicit the assistance of parents.”

TTUTA’s Doodhai confirmed the financial allocation previously stood at $150 per child, but in the face of the economic crisis this figure was reduced to $100 per child.

Doodhai criticised the ministry over the lack of funding as he said the shortage of supplies had led to parents being asked to shoulder that burden “in the best interest of their children.”

What is Direct Funding?

Direct Funding, introduced in 2012, is a monetary allocation based on the enrolment of the school that is given directly to the institution.

It enables schools to purchase stationery; items needed for the implementation of the curriculum such as chalk, dusters, whiteboards, and markers; and cleaning supplies including toilet paper, liquid soap, garbage bags, mopping liquid and disinfectant—all of which were previously supplied directly by the Ministry of Education.

Minister: We paid 50%

Denying the claims, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said on Friday, “For fiscal 2017/2018, the ministry remitted funds to the boards of denominational schools for Terms One and Two.”

Garcia said this was meant to be used for the upkeep of the school premises and equipment. However, he did admit there were still monies being owed in terms of requisites and other supplies. Garcia said as soon they received the funds, this issue would be rectified.

He said his ministry had remitted approximately 50 per cent of the funding as requested by principals of government-run primary schools, which would be used to purchase stationery, toiletries, and cleaning supplies.

Categories: News

Govt checking kids of jailed T&T nationals in Iraq

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:34

T&T authorities have asked international agencies which have relationships with Iraq to obtain information on the young children of three T&T women currently jailed in Iraq for association with the Islamic State (Isis).

This was confirmed by Government officials last week.

The children belong to the granddaughters of Rio Claro Imam Nazim Mohammed. He had been among insurgents in the 1990 failed coup in T&T by the Jamaat Al Muslimeen.

Mohammed’s daughter Anisa, 53 and her husband Daoud, 56 and their daughters, age 23 to 32, had migrated in 2015 to Syria, a conflict zone where Isis operated.

The family was detained by Iraqi authorities last August as Isis’s ranks began crumbling to international assault.

Anisa Mohammed and her daughters Sabirah Kumar, Azizah Mohammed and Aiydah Waheed-Hasib were detained with other females and were held separately to men who were detained.

Mohammed said Sabirah was married to a Guyanese man—Ali Kumar —who was detained separately. He said she had a girl of six and boy of two. They had been born in T&T, he added
Mohammed said Azizah and Aiydah were married to two “T&T-born brothers” and they also had three and two children respectively. But he had never seen those children who he said had been born in Syria.

“Altogether they may have seven or about eight children, most of whom I’ve never seen,” Mohammed added.

Mohammed said there was no word on the husbands of Azizah and Aiydah, nor on their father Daoud, who was expected to have faced trial this month. Mohammed said he felt he “might have been executed” already.

Mohammed, who spoke to Sabirah by phone last week, said he wasn’t begging, but hoped Government could use representatives in England and South Africa to help to get his daughter, granddaughters, and great-grands back home. “As T&T nationals they have rights, regardless of anything they may have done and they’re entitled to representation while in a foreign country,”

Checks by the T&T Guardian with authorities in Government confirmed T&T has no diplomatic relations with Iraq nor is there any facility for exchange or prisoners or deportees.

However, Government officials said the State has been following up the issue of the children involved in the family’s situation and a request had been made a while back to international agencies which liaise with the Iraqi government to obtain information on the young children associated with those jailed. The matter has been in train some time.

Mohammed said Sabirah said they were “ok” when he spoke to them by phone for ten minutes last week. “She wasn’t aware her sisters got 20 years (jail) also because they are housed separate. But they asked me to try and get help to get them out as people (detained) in their prison who were from Canada and other places were getting help from their Governments to get out. While they haven’t been tortured or anything like that, I feel Government should help.”

Categories: News

Thomas-Felix: Social media has effect on court

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:32

Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix says social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have an impact on the court.

She was delivering welcome remarks at the Industrial Court’s sixth “Meet With The Court” symposium at Regimental Headquarters, Garden Road, Aranguez, yesterday.

Thomas-Felix inquired of the audience “You may ask, what is the link to social media and the court?

“I posit that the advent of new communication technologies that have fundamentally transformed the way we live, play, and work has also signalled a new era for industrial relations.

“Perhaps one of the most transformative impacts is how social media has amplified the right to be heard, creating new avenues fro expression not only for workers, but for all social partners.”

She said whether it was with respect to the use of social media by employees, addressing issues related to employment, disciplinary action or dismissal based on employees’ social media activities, exploring the evolution of labour law to address how social partners might address social media policies, or how the court might better utilise social media in meeting its mandate, it was clear that it was not short of issues to discuss.

In his presentation on Social Media and the Contract of Employment UWI Barbados lecturer Jefferson Cumberbatch said public employers such as the State face unique constitutional issues where their employees use social media to voice their grievances or concerns.

He said the Constitution in various countries guaranteed freedom of expression but it may also be limited in respect of public officers or public servants.

Regarding T&T’s public servants, Cumberbatch cited T&T Civil Service Regulations, Chap. 23:01 139 (1) An officer shall not respond to questions of public policy, in a manner that could reasonably be construed as criticism and which may call into question his ability to impartially implement, administer or advise on Government policy and sub-regulation(1)shall not apply to an officer acting in his capacity as a representative of a recognised association.

Categories: News

Attorney: Follow Jamaica’s gun licence procedure

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:29

Attorney Larry Lalla has suggested to the business community of Arima and other organizations that they should lobby for legislative change in issuing firearms.

He said in Jamaica the power given to the Commissioner of Police (CoP) to issue firearms to citizens was taken away and placed in the hands of an independent body.

Lalla said T&T should follow the example of Jamaica, which in 2005 set up a Firearm Licensing Authority, which took away the discretion that their Commissioner of Police had in relation to the issue of Firearm User’s Licenses (FULs).

He said this was done because of allegations of bribery by successive CoPs and they did not do their job in a transparent manner.

He was speaking at the Arima Business Association’s (ABA) Firearm User’s Licence meeting at the Arima Town Hall, on Friday.

Lalla said “We no longer live in the dark ages and it’s time we get a better system in place so members of the public can access information.

“We should not be subjected to the whims and fancies of an individual or a commissioner and his policy in the granting of firearms in T&T.

“The law stated in the Firearms Act does not allow any commissioner to have any policy. This is the law and he (CoP) should carry out the law, regardless of what is his individual opinion on the granting of firearms.”

He said the other issue was that applicants did not receive a receipt when they submitted their firearms applications.

Lalla advised that the first thing an applicant should do was to file a Freedom of Information application so that his lawyer can have proper information to take to court.

Addressing members of the audience, he said that it was very important for citizens to ensure that all of their office holders from the highest to the lowest perform as they should.

He said according to the law, quoting Sect 16 of the Firearms Act, every citizen in this country, regardless of background, had the right to apply for a firearm and should be treated fairly.

Lalla said Ag CoP Stephen Williams was in breach of the law by having firearms’ licences sitting on his desk for years with no response to applicants.

He said what Williams was doing was insulting Parliament, because the law was declared by Parliament.

Lalla said Parliament never gave the CoP the right to defer people’s application for a firearms licence.

He said Williams was doing this because he did not want too many people having a firearm and this was not his decision to make, he did not have that power and was acting in an unconstitutional manner.

—reporting by RALPH BANWARIE

Categories: News

Plan still on for non-lethal weapons in crime fight

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:27

Police Commissioner Stephen Williams says although non-lethal weapons will be utlised by the T&T Police Service in the fight against crime, there is a set date for its introduction.

Williams yesterday said “Part of our challenge right now is resources and we are budgeting for it in fiscal 2019.” The new financial year begins in October 2018.

On the issue that criminals were using pepper spray to aid in attacks against innocent citizens, Williams said “There are no boundaries for the criminal element. The criminal element is free to use anything because they are not bounded by the law, so they break the law on an every-day basis.” He said the main issue remained one of enforcement.

Addressing reporters as he attended the Ministry of National Security’s Family Fun Day at the Prison Sports Grounds, Arouca, he said: “It is not necessary to look at the pepper spray in the hands of the criminal element because they have many many things in their hands and it is about enforcement against the criminal element.”

With the one-year mark fast approaching since the announcement by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that consideration would be given to allow women to carry tasers and pepper spray, Williams said “It requires careful research and study and that is what we are doing at this moment before we can make any recommendations to Government.”

On the use of body cameras for police officers, Williams said although it had been implemented by the TTPS, plans were under way to expand the initiative following a recent partnership agreement with TSTT.

There are currently 100 body cameras in circulation.

Seeking to foster a greater sense of togetherness and unity among the employees of the nine divisions under his ministry, National Security Minister Edmund Dillion joined staff to dance in the rain as they sang along to this year’s theme of “Reunited and It Feels So Good.”

He said despite the economic hardships, “We felt we could still come together and enjoy ourselves.”

Dillion will meet with divisional commanders this week “to hear what’s happening in the various divisions and what do they need from the minister and Government in terms of resources and equipment and whatever else is required to ensure they keep the murder rate down.”

Categories: News

Mickela’s move for political power

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:22

“I intend to continue to meet with those who are willing to put country before self to improve the lives of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”—Mickela Panday

Those were the closing words in a March 11 press release issued by Mickela Panday, daughter of former prime minister Basdeo Panday, in response to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar declining to meet with her on what was supposed to be an attempt to unite the Panday-founded UNC political party.

Today Mickela is doing as she says—staging her first Meet and Greet titled ‘It’s Time,’ at Gaston Courts, Chaguanas.

The advertisement of this gathering appeared on Facebook two weeks ago sparking speculation on whether the younger Panday was about to form a political party or following in the footsteps of her father with a modern-day Club 88.

(In 1988, Basdeo Panday, along with Kelvin Ramnath, John Humphrey and Trevor Sudama, were expelled from the NAR after a disagreement with then prime minister ANR Robinson. Panday then founded the Club for Love, Unity and Brotherhood (CLUB 88) which later became the UNC.)

Her social media posts don’t give away much of what exactly is expected to take place today. But one can interpret it as an open forum meeting in which the public can come and speak freely on the socio-political issues affecting them.

The sub-slogans “It’s Time to be heard; time to effect change; time to make a difference and time to improve people’s lives, however, gives the inclination this ‘meet and greet’ might very well be a precursor and ‘feel out’ event which may lead up to the launch of a new-branded political party.

Daddy Panday who has tirelessly argued the need for constitutional reform may have hinted this when he said in a recent interview that the formation of a new political party could only succeed if it guaranteed constitutional reform.

But if this is the closeted plan, can the “Panday brand” stand in 2018? Would it really be a ‘new party’ per se if her father were to be involved at some level? Can Mickela lead independent of her father, a seasoned politician, should she ever become prime minister? And what of the allegations of corruption that hovers over the family’s name? Can the ‘Panday brand’ be trusted?

What the analysts say

Political analyst Bishnu Ragoonath told the Sunday Guardian he believed the meeting was an attempt by Mickela to feel out and get a sense of what kind of support was out there for her if she was considering launching the political party on her own.

He did, however, issue a warning to the young Panday, saying she had to be careful that she was not led astray, as not everybody present at today’s meeting would legitimately there to support her.

Some, he said, might well just be there to ‘macco,’ while others may come as spies.

He said numbers should not fool her and allow this to be a deciding factor in forming a political party.

“She is going to have to sift her audience to determine who might not be and who might genuinely want to join her on her journey for change or whatever it is she is pushing for,” Ragoonath advised.

But this meeting, he reiterated, is certainly one to gauge and test the sentiment out there. Would it be a one-off meeting or the beginning of many? That, he said, will be interesting to see.

The ‘Bas-kela’ effect

Making a point of reference, Ragoonath recalled his own initial reaction to Mickela requesting talks with Persad-Bissessar. He said he wondered on what basis would the opposition leader had to have talks with Mickela Panday.

“The whole thing about this initiated ‘talks’ for Mickela was because she is Basdeo Panday’s daughter. Mickela Panday does not have a constituency as such nor an electoral base. So all I could see her coming there with and requesting a meeting was simply on the merit, she was Basdeo Panday’s daughter.”

In regard to how independent Mickela can be if she were to lead a party, Ragoonath said one couldn’t be separated from the other.

“Regardless of how you go forward or when you go forward, that ‘Panday Brand,’ will always be there.”

He spoke of a recent event at which both he and Mickela attended and said during her presentation it was like watching Basdeo Panday all over again.

“So you really cannot separate Mickela from her father. The ultimate question is, if Mickela forms a party, what role is there for Basdeo Panday? Because I don’t think that he will just sit on the sidelines and leave her alone. So clearly, he is going to be a player. How much of a part is he going to be allowed to play and whether the same people she is trying to attract are going to come back and say “‘same ole’ ‘same ole.’”

The bite of the past

Another political analyst, Reginald Dumas said if today’s meeting went well, it might be encouraging to have follow-up meetings in different parts of the country to viably test the waters.

“Based on the feeback from these meetings, the conveners would know if a new party should be formed and what that new party should represent,” Dumas said.

He does not believe that any decision has been made yet on the part of Mickela and as such, he warned that jumping to the conclusion that a new party was going to be formed by the younger Panday might be premature.

Speaking to the issue of her father pulling strings in the background if Mickela is ever to lead this nation, James said he did see him playing a role as her father and as a person who had a great deal of knowledge on politics.

However, whether he would be pulling strings or not, depended to a large extent what kind of person Mickela was, he said.

Dumas lamented that things were not what they ought to be in T&T. He said the institutions of the country were collapsing and “when the intuitions of a country go you have no country.”

“I do not know how the meeting will go today but I do hope there will be focus on the institutions of the country—how those that can be restored will be restored and the people that run these institutions, because it’s now a situation in this country where the guards themselves are attacking the citizens.”

The political DNA

He questioned where one could repose confidence as time after time, politician after politician had asked for the nation’s trust only to quickly disappoint them

He said Mickela must be able to persuade the public that she can really make a difference, but he was not sure how convincingly she could do that given the political DNA from which she was hatched.

Retracing history, Dumas told the Sunday Guardian if Mickela intended to continue pushing talk of “no more corruption,” she’d better be prepared to answer the public’s questions on matters of corruption that occurred during her father’s period in office.

He said from the “gift” alleged to have been received by Panday from former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey to his conviction, though he was subsequently acquitted of the charges, left in the minds of public uncertainty and distrust. (See sidebar at right.)

“You see, Mickela cannot come to play this role and project herself to be better than those who are there now if there are question marks over her and her family’s head. I do hope that people raise hard questions and comments. People need to know why they should believe she is different,” Dumas concluded

Efforts to contact Mickela Panday for a response were unsuccessful.

 

THE PEOPLE SPEAK

Will you vote for Mickela Panday if she forms a political party and runs for the 2020 general election? If so, why?

Bruce A Pouchet
Only if Bas have no part in it.
Phillip Matheson
Will we vote on issues and stop seeking personalities? Should we begin to deal with matters of state then we can hold politicians accountable. When we continue to go along with “personality politics” we will continue to get our hopes dashed and mud slinging.
Cas Nel
Apples ‘nuh’ fall far from tree.
Mario Ali Xavier
To answer that question now would mean using superficial reasons such as family relations or ethnicity. To properly answer we need to know her ideologies and what she represents in order to make an informed decision.
Erline Andrews
I’ll be inclined to. I’m desperate for new/younger/different.
Thomas Armoogan
I’m satisfied with the Government at the moment, not interested.
Kerwyn Benedict Fox
Yes...she seems to have integrity; not the superficial
Krys Tal
No. She talks a good game but what is her experience? What is her track record in public service, charitable ventures or at the very least leadership of any organisation through any major restructuring?
Anne Fridal
Would have to hear her policies and observe who she will include in her party [but probably not], crime, and corruption, jail for bandits etc, etc, etc.
Tracy Donald
Trinidad politics has become a quick pick, I’m now officially afraid to vote.
Trevor Williams
Competent, intelligent, isn’t dragging the weight of corruption. The two past leaders are colossal failures who are sure to fail again.

BAS THE CHARISMATIC, CONTROVERSIAL LEADER

Words like “Neemakaram”, “parasitic oligarchy” and phrases like “Politics has a morality of it’s own” will forever be synonymous to the country’s fifth Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.

No longer an active politician, Panday’s colourful political history, wit, charm, and outspoken way have all earned him the description of this country’s most charismatic and controversial politician and post-Independence leader.

Perhaps we will owe that to his background in drama. He did attend the London School of Dramatic Art while attending London University, where he studied law and economics.

A former trade unionist, Panday fought relentlessly for the rights of workers, eventually earning him the title of President General of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union (ATS&GWTU) in 1973. He remained in this role until he became the prime minister of T&T, three decades and one year after first entering politics in 1966 with the Workers’ and Farmers’ Party.

He was a founding member of the ULF, NAR, and UNC and served as opposition leader five times between 1976 and 2010.

But the trusted name and reputation of Basedeo Panday became sullied during his tenure in 1995 when he led this country.

The man once perceived to stand on truth—even resigning from the NAR party on the basis it practiced oligarchy, himself was accused of same when it was alleged he underhandedly accepted money from former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey.

In 2006 at a court hearing Panday admitted to the court it was Duprey who gave his wife Oma 119,183 pounds sterling (TT$1.2 million) in November 1997, representing scholarships for two of Panday’s daughters who were studying in England.

But when Duprey took the stand, he admitted to giving the money to Mrs Panday, not as scholarships, but as financial assistance.

Panday was convicted that year, facing three charges under the Integrity in Public Life Act of 1987 with failing to declare to the Integrity Commission, the assets of the account amounting to approximately $1.6M held at the National Westminster Bank at Wimbledon Hill Road, London, for the years ending 1997, 1998, and 1999, while he was prime minister. He was subsequently imprisoned, however on March 20, 2007, the Court of Appeal quashed that conviction.

With the embarrassing turn of events, on May 1, 2007, Panday resigned as chairman of UNC, but the party’s executive refused to accept his resignation.

He eventually lost the party’s internal elections on January 24, 2010 to then deputy leader, now former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. This scandal left and remains a lingering disfigurement on the UNC administration.

In 2012 he was acquitted of charges, on the ground that the magistrate was biased and the conviction was deemed “unsafe.” Panday continues to make public appeals for constitutional reform.

Categories: News

UTT managers brace for job cuts

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:18

The University of T&T’s (UTT) massive restructuring exercise is expected to save over $140 million in overhead expenses.

However, questions are being raised among the management level as to why a whopping $45 million will be spent over the next three years in the re-do of its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) system.

Late last year, the UTT announced its financial challenge especially after it received a substantial reduction in its recurrent allocation in the 2016 budget (for the fiscal year 2016-2017). The allocation in the 2017 budget was further reduced.

Speaking with the Sunday Guardian under strict anonymity, a senior manager at UTT said instructions have already been given to the ICT head to replace the current student information (Jenzabar), Human Resource and finance system with Banner.

“The estimated cost over the next three years could be $45 million. The vendor has already made two high-level visits,” the manager said.

“Please note the vendor was selected before the needs analysis has been done. Also the lack of tendering process. Any capital purchase more than $200,000 requires an RFP. This is very wrong,” the manager added. RFP means a request for proposal, which is a type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organisation announces that funding is available for a particular project or programme, and companies can place bids for the project’s completion.

The manager also disclosed that UTT “continues to award millions worth in contracts to vendors–air conditioning, landscaping…despite the threat of attempts to close campuses.”

On Friday, at a media conference, UTT’s deputy chairman and acting chairman of the Board of Governors, Prof Clement Imbert indicated that as the retrenchment continued among the academics, next to go were about 20 managers and four vice presidents.

On that statement, the UTT manager said that during the period October to November 2017 “all corporate heads were asked by the new President to identify 50 per cent of staff to be terminated. This was in October 2017.”

He said none of the managers ever saw the new organisational chart and none to his knowledge were consulted.

“What I can say is that the cuts that have been identified to management includes: 125 in academics (which represents a 25 per cent cut) and 422 in administration (50 per cent cut). The President wants a one to two or one to three ratio for academics to corporate staff,” the manager said.

“This exercise was done although the list of 287 names was already sent to the representing union, the OWTU.”

The manager, who fears that he would be in the line up to go home in the second retrenchment phase, said his managerial colleagues have been preparing themselves to leave. “Many are job hunting and prepared to leave. A very high percentage of managers are currently on month-to-month contracts. One vice president has already been ‘hounded out already’ if I should say that.

“There is a total breakdown in trust among managers, much less to say the rest of the staff and evidently, lack of motivation,” he added.

The manager added that maybe if a voluntary separation package was offered to them “the impact would have been softer.”

UTT deputy chair: I will only know things when informed

When contacted on these latest issues at UTT, Imbert said he was not employed at UTT and was only the deputy chairman and acting chairman of the Board and would only know things when informed.

Categories: News

PCA takes action

News - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 23:14

Serious allegations of domestic violence (DV) by police officers against their spouses and close relatives are now engaging the attention of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

Some of the allegations received over the three-year period 2012 to 2015 include: threats to beat, kill, shoot, throw acid, kidnap children; Assaults including slaps to face, kicks to stomach and vagina; Beatings which include a beating with a stone to the head, putting a gun to the head, and slamming against a wall. |

PCA’s head David West told the Sunday Guardian that every allegation of DV “is treated as serious since traditionally and statistically DV allegations escalate from threats to death.”

He disclosed that from 2012-2015, the PCA completed at least seven investigations and is currently investigating three DV complaints, cases that he could not comment on.

After investigations, some matters were sent to the DPP to determine if charges should be laid, while some others were sent to the Commissioner of Police (CoP) for disciplinary action. Other reports were made to the PCA between 2015 to present.

When a report is made against a police officer by their respective spouses/relatives to the police station, the PCA would also inquire into the conduct of the police, “whether they conduct proper investigations or whether they have committed the disciplinary offence of neglect of duty.”

West said that once a complaint of DV is received, the CoP, in this case acting CoP Stephen Williams, is immediately notified, “so that he can trigger the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) internal protocol in this area.

“Once we receive a complaint that pertains to an unlawful entry by a police officer in a DV related matter we also investigate and report to the CoP and the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

Since this year started, the PCA has set up a team to work on the PCA’s own policy and manual for DV cases.

This involves not only a review of the Police Standing Orders and the local Domestic Violence Investigative and Procedural Manual for Police Officers but the international and regional policies in this area.

The PCA intends to launch its stakeholder meetings programme in August 2018 where all will be invited to take part in public consultations.

“In so doing, we can have the input of all interested parties before we make our recommendations and give advice,” West said.

In one recent case of a DV against a police officer who was assigned to the Central Division, senior officers were made aware of this and one of the officers was called to a meeting.

During that meeting, the officer was warned of a concern over his behaviour and told he should lodge his firearm at the Central Division Station.

But one month later, the officer retrieved his firearm, although his superiors again warned him about his behaviour.

Late last year, the PCA launched its mobile app where people can directly lodge reports against police officers and also upload photos, videos, and documents.

DV victims can also make use of the app, instead of physically venturing to the PCA’s head office at the International Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.

PCA MOBILE APP REPORTS

From October 1, 2017, to last Wednesday’s date:
• 167 mobile reports were submitted
• Of the 167 mobile reports, 113 were non-actionable
• Of these 113 reports, 54 were classed as reports for review
• Of these 54 reports, 23 were assessed as complaints/within the PCA’s remit

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INVESTIGATIVE AND PROCEDURAL MANUAL

In 2003, it was announced that police officers investigating reports of domestic violence would be guided in their investigations with the use of a Domestic Violence Investigative and Procedural Manual.

The Working Committee, which was mandated back then to prepare the manual, had as its term of reference the formulation of the protocols on the methods of primary response to reports or complaints of domestic violence; protocols on the treatment of and interaction with victims of domestic violence; witnesses to domestic violence, minors in a home where there has been domestic violence, and suspects of domestic violence; clear statements and explanations of the current law as it relates to domestic violence, inclusive of existing legislation, police standing orders and staff orders, and decided case law; and a listing of domestic violence support agencies within T&T.

The objective of the manual is to assist law enforcement professionals in their primary response to and prosecution of domestic violence as a crime in T&T.

It is also geared towards ensuring that victims of domestic violence are treated with dignity and respect and adequately assisted throughout the ordeal.

Categories: News

Calypso Spikers fall to Canada in Challenge Cup

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:40

T&T’s senior women’s volleyballers suffered a 25-12, 25-16, 25-22 loss to host Canada in their Pool A opener of the five-team inaugural NORCECA Women’s Challenge Cup at the Edmonton Expo Centre Hall D, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Thursday night.

Playing their first match since qualifying for the FIVB Women’s World Championship on home soil last October, the T&T women, minus key duo, Turkey-based duo, middle-blocker Sinead Jack (Galatasaray) and Krystle Esdelle (Pursaklar Beleyidesi), and led by Sweden-based Renele Forde (Svedala), were heavy underdogs against the Canadians.

And from set one, Canada looked more organised than the seven-time Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) champions and sealed the win in one hour and 12 minutes.

The third set saw a much better fight from the T&T women led by the Philippines-based pair of Channon Thompson (Foton Tornadoes) and Darlene Ramdin (Generika-Ayala Lifesavers).

In the end, the Canadians showed their superiority and dominated in all key aspects of the match, which included a 39-27 edge on spikes, 10-7 on blocks, and 4-2 on blocks.

With this being their first match together the Francisco ‘Panchee’ Cruz-coached T&T women, were expectedly guilty of committing a number of errors, 22 to be exact as compared to Canada’s 14.

Cruz, who has been at the helm of the Calypso Spikers women’s team for more than a decade said: “The game was acceptable. We lost two players who are unable to play, and that is a problem within the organisation.”

With regards to the team’s display Cruz said, “Finally, in the last set we started to come together and for me, everything was good. We have some new players, and I don’t do any substitutions because we have eight experienced players and the rest are young.”

Cruz added, “Out of the eight, two aren’t playing and this is the problem. Some players played today (Thursday) in other positions and I suppose, because this is the first match, that in the second match they will play better.”

For the NORCECA fifth-ranked host who got a point from nine of their 12 players, Alexa Lea Gray was the top contributor with 15 points, 13 of which were kills while Marie-Alex Belanger had eight and Kyla Richey, seven. The trio of Jennifer Cross (six), Shaniah Joseph (five) and Alicia Perrin (five) also assisted to the home team’s straight sets win.

On the other side of the net, Ramdin and Thompson, the latter of whom only arrived in Canada on Tuesday, both got 11 points, laced with eight and nine kills respectively.

Canada-based Taija Thomas added four and the trio of Jalicia Ross-Kydd, Kelly-Ann Billingy and Forde chipped in with three points each.

Forde said: “We’ve all been playing abroad and we haven’t been able to practice together. I’m okay with the result in terms of how we fought and how we tried to compete. I’m sure Canada has been practicing for some time together, and they have everything they need, which is a difference between our team and them.”

In the first match of the Cup, Puerto Rico swept Nicaragua 25-15, 25-15, 25-11.

Yesterday, T&T was expected to play a must-win match versus Costa Rica, however, the latter failed to arrive for the event due to travel issues. This means, T&T ended as second-placed finishers and will contest the bronze medal match tomorrow from 6 pm against the second-placed team from Pool B, Cuba or Puerto Rico.

However, tonight from 9 pm the T&T women will meet Canada in an exhibition clash. The winners of each pool will face off in tomorrow’s final from 9 pm from which the champion team will qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Challenge Cup Finals while the two group runners-up meet for bronze.

Categories: News

San Francique Girls cop St Patrick title

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:37

San Francique Presbyterian is the new Atlantic Primary Schools St Patrick winner after defeating Granville RC by a whopping 53 runs in their encounter on Thursday in Penal.

Samantha Hosein slammed 46 and Abbygale Ragoo struck 45 to lead the way for San Francique. Not to be underestimated was a lively unbeaten 39 from Ilainna Beepat.

In response, Granville RC was skittled out for 108 with Hosein again the star grabbing four wickets for 15 runs. Sheria Hajree was also on sound with figures of two wickets for 22 runs.

In the boys’ section, Lochmaben romped to the title by nine wickets over Clarke Rochard Government. Lochmaben would have started the encounter as underdogs but in the end, they would have toppled a school with a very impressive record in Atlantic Primary Schools cricket.
Clarke Rochard batting first made 96 all out with Mathew Sookoo taking three wickets for 20 runs. Lochmaben was expected to struggle to get to this total but it was quite the opposite, as they dominated the opposition. They reached their winning target at 97 for one after just 12 overs with Michael Joseph hitting an unbeaten 19.

Scores 

St Patrick Education District Final
Girls: San Francique Presbyterian vs Granville RC
San Francique Presbyterian 161/2 in 20 overs (Samantha Hosein 46, Abbygale Ragoo 45, Ilainna Beepat 39 not out) vs Granville RC 108 All Out (Amy Pura 15, Samantha Hosein 4/15, Sheria Hajree 2/22) - San Francique Presbyterian won by 53 runs.
Boys final
Clarke Rochard Government 96 all out (Matthew Sookoo 3/20) vs Lochmaben RC
97/1 in 12 overs (Michael Joseph 19 not out) - Lochmaben RC won by 9 wkts.

Categories: News

Honore, Stewart to miss Men’s Challenge Cup

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:21

National men’s senior team volleyball coach Sean Morrison will have to do without the services of key duo, Portugal-based Marc-Anthony Honore, and Ryan Stewart for the Norceca Men’s Challenge Cup, a continental qualifying event carded for Pinar del Rio, Cuba, June from 3-11.

This was confirmed by the T&T coach yesterday, when he announced his 12-man roster for the six-team tournament which also involves the host Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

The teams will contest a round-robin series at the end of which, the winner will qualify to the newly formed Volleyball Nations League, which replaced the FIVB Grand Prix.

The team, to be led once again by Glamorgan’s Stewart who captained the locals to a third Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) crown on home soil last year, and third in team history includes Kwesi Daniel, Akim Bushe, Marlon Phillip, Daneil Williams, libero Joshua Mohammed, Newton Grant, setter Kameron Daniel and USA-based pair, Adriel Roberts (Charleston University) and Mikheil Hoyte.

All the players named above with the exception of Grant were part of the CAZOVA 2017 Championship winning team.

According to Morrison, a former national player himself, Honore is now coming off a very hectic season with SL Benfica in which they were beaten in the Portugal A-1 Division final by Sporting CP in the best-of-five series 3-2.

Honore’s SL Benfica captured the Portugal Cup yet again and were quarterfinalists in their European club exploits as well.

The T&T coach said, ‘Due to the long season Marc Honore had in Europe we agreed for him to get some rest and rejoin the team for the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla,

Colombia (July 20 - August 3), 13th Pan American Cup in Veracruz, Mexico (August 12-20) as well as the CAZOVA Men’s Championship in Suriname (August 4 – 11).

With regards to Police Officer Stewart who was voted as the Most Valuable Player in leading T&T to the regional crown last year on home soil, Morrison said it is very difficult for him to get time off from work.

“It’s understood that with the current spike in crime, his employers have stated that no time off will be permitted until maybe the end of June.

“We also have the experienced middle-blocker Russell Pena, who could have stepped in for Honore out injured, so we have brought in two new players in Nicholas Prescott and Daynte Stewart, who should be no strangers to the group

The team currently trains four days a week at the Jean Pierre Sports Complex, Mucurapo, Thursdays and Fridays (8.30 pm – 11 pm) and Saturdays and Sundays (7.30 pm – 11 pm).

T&T SQUAD

Nicholas Prescott, Daynte Stewart, Kwesi Daniel, Adriel Roberts (Charleston University), Mikheil Hoyte, Akim Bushe, Marlon Phillip, Daneil Williams, Ryan Stewart (captain), Joshua Mohammed (libero), Newton Grant, Kameron Donald (setter).

Categories: News

Rock In Peace at Santa Rosa

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:07

Former champion trainer Glenn Mendez sends out the Irish bred Rock in Peace for the feature Modified Benchmark Handicap over 1,500 metres on the turf track at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.

Rock In Peace has been knocking at the door and with his allotment of 57 kilos can walk into the winner’s enclosure today. Rock In Peace has improved with racing and today looks the day for success.

The John O’Brien-trained Howsweetitis which has been a revelation on the turf will race with 53 kilos for Nela Mohammed. Howsweetitis has been galloping well and could go close.

The Harold Chadee-trained Buffalo Soldier will take along topweight of 58.5 kilos under Kerron Khelawan.

Buffalo Soldier will go close if anywhere close to his best.

But, the highly regarded Michael Carew Junior-trained Magical Victory has beaten the best horse in training Bigman in Town and must be respected based on that effort.

With his form, he is expected to go close for Franklin Gonzalez.

Terrance Thomas sends out Eye See You and this one could go close while the Harold Chadee trained filly Set Sail must be respected with apprentice Ri Hernandez. She is a filly with class and if primed must go close.

Post time is 1.05 pm.

Categories: News

East to challenge Southeast today

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:02

East will come up against Southeast in the first semifinals of the Senior Interzone today at 10 am at the Brian Lara Academy in Tarouba.

Southeast booked their place in the semifinals with a 20-run win over South on Wednesday night at the same facility. They will be hoping to get past an East outfit which includes the likes of Lendl Simmons and Rayad Emrit. Emrit, in particular, has been in great form and claimed 6/27 leading up to this game.

Tomorrow at the same venue, Central Zone will clash with North.

Central topped Group “A” with three wins in as many matches for a total of nine points. They will start as favourites to get past North Zone, who finished runners-up in Group “B” with six points from two wins.

The series has generated a lot of interest given the fact that the top local players like Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Emrit and Simmons have been involved.

Added to them a number of T&T Red Force players have made themselves available, all seeking retainer contracts.

This series, which was organised by the board due to the financial constraints facing clubs may well be a blessing in disguise according to the chairman of the organising committee Patrick Rampersad.

He said: “What this series has done is to revive interest in Interzone cricket. The competition has been very competitive, the players have shown great commitment and the rivalry has been keen.

“There has already been some preliminary discussions into deepening this Interzone rivalry by hosting a T20 Interzone tournament next year. Although the 50 overs tournament was removed from the club’s control, the idea is not to take the T20 away from the clubs but play two tournaments.

Rampersad added, “We are very happy with what we have seen and team’s and management must be congratulated for making this a success. We are hoping to see good crowds on the weekend at Lara Academy as we look to bring back that interest in domestic cricket.”

Categories: News

Garner hails cricket as ‘force for good’ ahead of fund-raising T20

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:57

BRIDGETOWN—West Indies legend Joel Garner has added his voice to those supporting the massive goodwill effort to rebuild stadia affected by the passage of deadly Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September.

West Indies clash with an ICC World XI on May 31 at Lord’s in a fund-raising Twenty20 International and Garner noted that cricket was again showing it was a unifying force for good.

“Our players have always been willing to be involved in any kind of charitable working going back to my playing days and even before,” said the former Windies team manager.

“It is great to see the youngsters have again joined that rich tradition and are happy to participate an give back to the community and those in need.”

The great former fast bowler was Windies team manager last year during the one-day tour of England when several Caribbean islands were devastated by the tropical cyclones.

He joined the outreach then by volunteering to collect funds and this year will be involved as part of the delegation to Lord’s for the high profile match.

“Last year, we had a good day at the Oval where we interacted with the spectators in an effort to raise funds,” he explained.

“This year will be no different. I think over 6,000 tickets have been sold so far and the match is still two weeks away. Based on these sales, it seems we will have a great crowd at Lords for the upcoming game.”

He continued: “Cricket is again showing it can be a ‘force for good’ and it can help to bring people together. We have a situation here where cricket has stepped forward to help those in need. We have to say a huge thanks to the players who will participate.

“All around the world sports helps to bring a smile to people’s faces and sportsmen are hailed as heroes, so it’s always great to see when those players give back in a meaningful way.”

The Windies will be led by T20 World Cup hero Carlos Brathwaite and includes two-time world champions Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Samuel Badree.

The match will also mark a return to international cricket for Andre Russell following his recent year-long ban.

England white-ball captain Eion Morgan will skipper the World XI which will feature exciting Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, Pakistan batting star Shoaib Malik, Bangladesh stroke-maker Tamim Iqbal as well as Sandeep Lamichhane, the sensational 17-year-old wrist spinner from Nepal.

The match will be played under lights starting at 6 pm (1 pm Eastern Caribbean time). (CMC)

Categories: News

T&T WOMEN BEGIN WORLD CUP QUEST

Sports - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:26

T&T’s women footballers will begin their quest for Fifa World Cup qualification today when they clash with the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) in the feature match of a double-header from 6.30 pm at the Home of Football, Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

The Group C match will follow an earlier encounter at 4 pm in which St Kitts/Nevis will take on Dominica.

The T&T women will be attempting to replicate their performance at the 2015 qualifiers that saw them finish fourth in the Concacaf Championship, before being edged out 1-0 by Ecuador in the Inter-Continental play-off, to narrowly miss out on a spot at the Fifa World Cup in Germany.

Yesterday Mariah Shade, one of the most experienced players in the team, stressed the importance of starting on a winning note. “We are very much excited about this World Cup campaign. We have been training really hard and we are focused on the task at hand. We are committed to the goal which is to qualify for the World Cup,” Shade said.

“The mindset for us is to dominate. We know at this level we usually put in a lot of goals. We don’t just want to win but we want to dominate the matches as well. It is just to put in the work and hopefully, with the blessing of God, we can achieve this.

“We need to go in there with a mindset in spite of the score, we need to finish off the games strongly.”

USVI coach Izler Browne, who is a former national player and coach, said her team will not be intimidated by the hosts. “I had to go in and put things in place for consistency in the Women’s game in the USVI,” Browne said, following her appointment as coach.

“At the senior team level, we are at a transitional stage. It’s a relatively young team with a couple older players. We are trying to ensure the younger players all get a taste of international football in this tournament.

“We understand the magnitude of the team we are playing against. We want to be able to give a credible performance. We understand that for us we may not play the game in the way we want or the result may not be what we want but it is important for us to ensure that this is something we can build on,” Browne said.

Another T&T coach Rajesh Latchoo, who is at the helm of the Dominica team said he is anticipating a decent showing from his troop.

Categories: News

The African Continental Free Trade Area

Columnists - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:20

On March 21 this year, 44 African heads of state and government officials signed the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was initiated by the African Union.

The signing took place in Kigali, Rwanda.

Since 2012, the AU had begun to develop the AfCFTA. The free trade area will be one of the world’s largest in terms of the number of countries, covering more than 1.2 billion people and over $4 trillion in combined consumer and business spending if all 55 countries join.

Calestous Juma of Harvard Kennedy School and Francis Mangeni from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, in Zambia, wrote: “The TFTA is a key landmark in Africa’s economic history. It ranks in significance with the independence of Ghana in 1957, the creation of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963, and its reinvention as the African Union in 2002.

To paraphrase Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, the best way to learn to be a continental free trade area is to be a continental free trade area” (June 11, 2015)

There are some optimistic expressions about its future.

Matthew Davies, Al Jazeera’s Africa Business Report editor, stated, “Generally speaking, it’s the first stage of closer economic co-operation with a view to possible integration. The next stage would be a customs union, where each country would have the same tariffs with the outside world and low or no tariffs between each other.

“Then comes a common market, where goods, services and labour move tariff and quota-free between the countries and the bloc has a common trade relationship with the rest of the globe. Further integration involves political union and a unifying single currency.”

Landry Signé writing in The Washington Post stated: “The AU and its member countries hope the AfCFTA will accelerate continental integration and address the overlapping membership of the continent’s regional economic communities (RECs).

Many African countries belong to multiple RECs, which tends to limit the efficiency and effectiveness of these organizations.”

While the rest of world is looking at this African development, the current Government of T&T, as well as a significant section of our African elite (not necessarily the same thing!), have shown no enthusiasm for African affairs. Both have conveniently bypassed the UN declaration of the current International Decade for the People of African Descent.

The National Joint Action Committee and the Emancipation Support Committee are the main organisations keeping IDPAD prominent. Both organisations observe the annual African Liberation Day on May 25th which commemorates the founding of the OAU/AU. The Government and the African elite are indifferent to the 2003 declaration that the African Diaspora is the Sixth Region of the AU.

Any integration process is a laborious and contentious matter. For example, Nigeria, one of the key negotiators for the Kigali agreement, has not signed on as yet because President Buhari said he needed more time to consult with unions and businesses to assess the effect that AfCFTA would pose to his country’s manufacturing and small-business sector.

Burundi, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Benin have not yet signed.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a staunch advocate for a more united Africa, stated his frustration with Nigeria and the other countries’ failure to take part. He said that he had long advertised all African countries to participate.

The European Union took more than 50 years to accomplish what exists today. And it still has to contend with Brexit.

Caricom, described as “the oldest surviving integration movement in the developing world”, was inaugurated in July 1973 by the Treaty of Chaguaramas, later revised in 2002. Caricom still seeks an elusive single market and economy.

Information about the African Continental Free Trade Area demands greater exposure in the Caribbean. An economically (and politically) united Africa means a lot for the self-esteem of Africans in our region.

Aiyegoro Ome

Categories: News

East Indians’ respect for womanhood

Columnists - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:19

Last week I ended by characterising the East Indian way of life as one being filled with devotion to country. This devotion is akin to the love and affection that one would have for his/her own mother.

On that note, Hindu East Indians who first arrived in Trinidad on 30th May 1845 aboard the SS Fatal Razack and ships that followed, also brought with them an entrenched penchant to worship the Supreme Lord as the Divine Mother. The famous “Gayatri” mantra is testimony of early Vedic hymns in the worship of “Shakti” or the female aspect of God.

East Indian Hindu traditions include daily offerings of “Jal” or water to the sun at sunrise. Of all the natural wonders we revere, the most striking is the exact moment when the sun comes over the horizon.

Hindus believe that this period of dawn is the blessing of the Divine Mother herself, where the light rays shower the earth and mankind with “Prana” or positive spiritual energy.

The belief in this significant physical display of the Divine Mother is analogised in Hindu scriptures where “Shakti”, in the various forms of ‘Goddess Saraswati’, ‘Goddess Durga’, ‘Goddess Lakshmi’, ‘Goddess Kali’ and many other Goddesses are enshrined and revered even above the male form of Godhood.

In East Indian culture, the system is not totally patriarchal. For example, we speak of our Motherland (not Fatherland), we refer in our conversations to ‘matribhasha’, our mother language not ‘pitribhasha’ our father language.

Again, in Hindu scriptures sons were addressed by their mother’s name and belonged to the mother, not the father. Lord Krishna was called ‘Yashodananda’ (son of Yashoda) after his mother’s name Yashoda.

In the Mahabharata, the famed archer Arjuna was called Kaunteya, meaning ‘son of ‘Kunti’, his mother’s name.

The Great poet Tulsidas, in his composition of the Hanuman Chalisa, refers to the Great Lord Hanuman as “Anjani putra” or son of Anjani.

In Hindu scriptures, the women had an important role in society and included all fields of life, whether warfare, governance, literature and even spiritual quest. In the Brihadaranaka Upanishad (Hindu religious text), reference is made to ‘Gargya’, a great female sage (rishi).

The ‘Ramayan’ (Hindu scripture) referred to in my last article speaks of Lord Ram performing Navaratri worship of the Devi (female) before going to war. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna invokes the Divine Mother before entering the battlefield. In this present period of time, called ‘Kali-Yuga’, Adi Gura Shankaracharya (one of our great Sages) worshipped the Devi or Devi Mother with the famous Sanskrit composition, ‘Soundarya Lahari’.

Our ancestors/forefathers from India used the highest title of “Devi” when addressing mothers and women.

Nowadays, we use ‘Devi’ in referring to our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. The East Indian way of life is to regard them as Goddesses. The festivals which East Indian Hindus traditionally upkeep such as ‘Nau Ratam’ or ‘Navaratri’ have as their central theme, the worship of the female form. East Indian marriages actually promote the Hindu ideal that a bride is the personification of Goddess Lakshmi.

For all those critics who continue to bash the East Indian way of life, it is an undeniable fact that the East Indians have maintained as part of their inherent nature, an appreciation for the women in our society.

Everyday teachings in Maha Sabha schools include the daily obligation to honour mothers by bowing at their feet. Whenever a religious ceremony is performed, there is circumambulation of our mothers with light (Aarti), the highest form of worship in Hindu rites.

The East Indian way of life is not to drink rum and beat women, as is portrayed by certain local media streams and entertainers, but to literally honour our women in society! Hindus’ normal mode of worship mandates that this type of honour is accorded to mothers, wives and girls. Last Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day, a highly westernised concept of honouring mothers. The East Indians have been doing this on a daily basis since time began.

It is unfortunate that our society is deteriorating from the point of view that there is a substantial rise in crimes against women. This cannot and should not continue as it would spell the inevitable destruction of all moral and religious values. In celebration of Indian Arrival Day, it is suggested that a special effort be made by all to recommit to respecting and honouring our women in society.

Happy Indian Arrival month!

Categories: News

Ganga eyes Bas’ meeting, Maxie out hospital

Columnists - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:16

Finance Minister Colm Imbert and UNC Senator Wade Mark were at it again yesterday.

Early in the Senate sitting, both were trading grumbled remarks after Imbert declared mistrust of Mark’s arithmetic.

“You all let me know when you’re ready for me to start formal proceedings,” Senate President Christine Kangaloo reminded both.

But half hour later, as Imbert lavishly praised Opposition and Independent senators for Insurance Bill deliberations, he conceded on Mark’ determination that the bill had 282 clauses.

“I trust his arithmetic in that case,” Imbert grinned.

Agreement on the voluminous Insurance Bill, though Mark still had certain suggestions, was one of the few times both political sides have stood together on something. Certainly, none of that occurred with Government’s recent economic uptick announcement.

At Tuesday’s Senate, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West was still saying “(UNC) Senator (Taharqa) Obika, please stop saying the economy has crashed!”

Government, however, can expect scepticism if facts of the economic movement are limited to Parliament presentation and PNM chest-thumping.

With PNM’s most significant political challenge to the Opposition to date, its widely touted economic achievement, the UNC on Tuesday strengthened profile slightly with deputy leader Jearlean John debuting as a temporary Senator.

While John’s among UNC’s political weaponry, particularly in the East-West corridor, and PNM MP Maxie Cuffie’s constituency which she’s “working”, it remains ahead how much pushback UNC’s moves will impact on Government’s economic positives.

Cuffie’s relatives said Cuffie, following recent successful neurosurgery, was discharged from hospital on Thursday, “is much improved” and back at his Washington apartment. They expect he’ll remain under observation in the US another few weeks.

The Opposition had banked heavily on negative Government image resulting from the economic downturn’s impact on J Public. And Government’s well aware of UNC’s political predicament in a positive economic landscape.

Imbert in debate, after Opposition down-cry of the economic uptick, queried how the UNC would cope with the 2019 Budget and if Panadol and Limacol would be conscripted to handle their (political) headaches.

More immediate buzz for UNC though, is tomorrow’s (Sun) meeting by supporters of former UNC leader Basdeo Panday and daughter Mickela to discuss T&T’s political climate.

Whether the meeting decides if Panday, 85 next Friday, enters a new political phase or his daughter does, remains ahead.

How concerned UNC’s leadership is about the development can be gauged by yesterday’s sudden Opposition release, on the eve of Panday’s meeting, signalling UNC’s leadership is “taking in front” on the matter. Literally.

UNC announced that party leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will be honoured at today’s Indian Arrival Day celebrations by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), where she’ll speak, at a Chaguanas venue similar to Panday’s meeting tomorrow.

Persad-Bissessar’s address will likely target UNC faithful, seeking to steady party foundation against possible Panday “putsch”.

Precautionary indeed. UNC Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh, recently shifted to last on the Opposition backbench, confirmed “active consideration” to attend Panday’s meeting.

Singh added yesterday: “As a student of T&T political history it’s an interesting development: the first time in political history a former PM, founder of the UNC, is contemplating forming an alternative political party. We’re living in interesting times.”

Some from Panday’s heyday were invited to the open forum. Ex-sidekick Jack Warner, an invitee said, “I have a prior engagement. I wish them the best and will monitor developments.”

Also invited, senior counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said, “I’ll be overseas, but I wish the meeting well.”

Former Naparima MP Nizam Baksh confirmed invitation from Mickela, but says Ramadan fasting’s started. Ex-MP Chandresh Sharma said Wednesday he was at a funeral and didn’t say “yea” or “nay.” UNC’s Fazal Karim said he wasn’t invited.

If not for Government’s economic uptick, UNC officials may not have been watching to see if the Pandays’ future path may cross UNC’s in traditional strongholds.

However, Roodal Moonilal, whom Panday mentored, said, “People are free to meet the public. But T&T’s always been a two-party system, I don’t see that changing.”

Categories: News

Paints to be protected under revised Caricom treaty

Business - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:11

GEORGETOWN—Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states, Guyana and Suriname have agreed to join the region’s Less Developed Countries (LDCs) in agreeing to add paints to the list of products benefiting from Article 164 protection.

This was announced during a news conference at the end of a meeting of the Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED) conference, attended by regional trade and economic affairs ministers.

Paint, is one of three items, the others being flour and certain cereals and animal feeds, beer and brewery products that have been so far agreed to pending further consultations by the More Developed Countries (MDCs)—T&T, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, which have been given extra time before June 13, to complete their consultations on a raft of items.

Article 164 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is designed to promote the development of industries in the LDC’s of Caricom, including Belize and Haiti. These countries are allowed to deny certain products originating in Caricom and extra regional countries from preferential entry into their markets.

According to Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to Caricom Dr Clarence Henry, the outcome of the COTED meeting “is a signal of maturity and recognition of the critical importance of this provision of the Treaty which focussed attention of the sensitive industries within the LDCs under Chapter 7 of the Revised Treaty.

“Certainly, the decision today offers new hope for the spirit and application of the provisions of the Revised Caricom Treaty. This COTED, can be described as successful (but) there is still work to be done.”

During the news conference, the council also lamented the apparent influx of extra regional imports of flour and cement from Turkey, as well as the repackaging of goods from extra regional sources that seems to be in violation or breach of the Treaty.

The COTED agreed to a recommendation for a stakeholder consultation June 8—9 on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in Guyana, with the aim of addressing insufficient information on the regional project and to give ordinary citizens an opportunity to pose questions or concerns.

Categories: News

GHL up by $0.48

Business - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:10

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 12 securities of which six advanced, three declined and three traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 201,738 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $2,632,143.89. Guardian Holdings Limited was the volume leader with 83,904 shares changing hands for a value of $1,382,861.58, followed by Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited with a volume of 55,672 shares being traded for $439,808.80. NCB Financial Group Limited contributed 51,783 shares with a value of $273,848.25, while First Citizens Bank Limited added 3,000 shares valued at $104,986.96.

Guardian Holdings Limited registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.48 to end the day at $16.48. Conversely, Unilever Caribbean Limited registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.24 to close at $32.50.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 18,407 shares valued at $371,230.70. It declined by $0.07 to end at $20.17.

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

• The Composite Index advanced by 2.65 points (0.21 per cent) to close at 1,237.64.

• The All T&T Index advanced by 3.04 points (0.18 per cent) to close at 1,725.32.

• The Cross Listed Index advanced by 0.31 points (0.31 per cent) to close at 100.81.

Categories: News

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