Daily Brief - Friday 10th February, 2017

NEWS

‘Holy Bandits’

Just how low will this country’s bandits go as they prey on innocent, law-abiding citizens? This was the question asked by police investigating a case in which three women, all clutching copies of the Holy Bible in their hands, held up a Chaguanas woman at gunpoint on Wednesday morning. Once inside the house, one of the female bandits quickly placed a piece of cloth soaked in chloroform (a chemical that causes unconsciousness) to the woman’s nose, causing her to collapse. When she regained her senses, the victim was greeted with her entire house ransacked and valuables stolen. The incident is worrisome to police who said it shows the level of lawlessness and disrespect by criminals who are bent on stooping to any level (including using the Bible) to gain the trust of their victims. Read more here

Criminals cause SEPOS teachers to skip classes

The majority of teachers called in sick yesterday forcing the school to dismiss students around lunchtime, but only in the company of their parents or guardians. The T&T Guardian was told that the teachers were frustrated with the attacks against the students by hoodlums from the nearby Nelson Street Plannings. According to police, they met with the few teachers that attended school yesterday and heard some of their concerns, most of which involved students being harassed going to and from school. The most recent incident took place sometime after 9 am on Wednesday where a female student had her buttocks groped by a man and was also robbed. Read more here

Pan Trinbago, NCC reach deal

Pan Trinbago and the National Carnival Commission (NCC) have arrived at an out-of-court compromise, pending the outcome of a civil lawsuit which is to be filed against NCC for not allowing the pan organisation to handle its own financial affairs. This was revealed at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain yesterday by attorneys representing both parties, during a court hearing in which Pan Trinbago was seeking leave to file for judicial review. The lawsuit is challen­ging NCC's decision to collect proceeds from the sale of tickets for this Sunday's National Panorama semi-finals and the finals on February 25, which is to be planned, executed and managed by Pan Trinbago. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Minister: Court matter will not affect Carnival

Community Development, Culture and the Arts Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby Dolly yesterday assured that the legal matter between Pan Trinbago and the National Carnival Commission (NCC) will not affect this year’s Carnival. Addressing the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Gadsby Dolly said, “I would like the public to know that this in no way affects Carnival. Everything has been put in place for Carnival and we are expecting a very successful and enjoyable event.” Based on the turnout at calypso tents and the various panyards so far, Gadsby Dolly stated, “It seems Carnival is being well enjoyed by the public and we expect this matter, whatever the outcome, will not affect that to any extent and we look forward to a wonderful Carnival.” Read more here

More shelters coming for abuse victims -Govt

New shelters are being established for victims of domestic violence.  This was revealed by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. Young said the issue of domestic violence was being looked at by the Government and noted that Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ayanna Webster-Roy, “has brought to Cabinet a gender policy and it is currently before the Finance and General Purposes Committee (of the Cabinet).”

The issue arose in the wake of criticisms against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who told a national conversation in Maloney on Monday that he was not in the bedroom of women and advised that they they should choose their men more wisely. Read more here

'More people to access affordable housing'

The Government will begin the construction of 2,500 homes in this calendar year, Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said yesterday. The minister also announced changes to the income qualifications and other criteria for the Government's mortgage financing programme aimed at allowing “thousands more” T&T citizens to access affordable housing. Speaking at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, Mitchell said the qualifying income for a two-per cent-interest loan from Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance (TTMF) has been adjusted from $10,000 to $14,000 monthly. He said the property value for this loan has also been increased from $850,000 to $1.2 million. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

CTO: Caribbean tourism arrivals and spending hit all-time high

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) says tourism in the region broke new ground last year, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever and once again growing faster than the global average. CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley, revealed the statistics yesterday during his presentation of the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016 at the CTO head office in Bridgetown, Barbados. “Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 percent in 2016, better than the 3.9 percent overall internationally.” Riley said it was encouraging to note that the Caribbean “welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015, to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of continuous growth for the seventh straight year.” Visitor expenditure also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 percent to reach US $35.5 billion. Read more here

Massy expands automobile operations to South America

The Massy Group through its Massy Motors subsidiary has acquired two large automobile dealerships in Colombia—Autogalias in Bogotá and Grupo Automontaña in Medellín, which incorporate four dealerships. Through this acquisition on February 1, Massy Motors will now represent a number of automotive brands—Renault, VW, Volvo and Hyundai along with Mazda, Kia and Foton in Cali. The acquisition significantly expands Massy Motors' operations in Colombia, and is expected to double the volume of sales, Massy said in a statement yesterday. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Gov't Targets Billions In Taxes - Compliance To Make Significant Contribution

A review of the Government's revenue estimates indicates that the Andrew Holness administration intends to increase its tax intake by $62 billion this fiscal year. Of significance is that the Government is projecting to rake in $15 billion from General Consumption Tax, while an additional $6 billion is expected to be realised from Special Consumption Tax. A government source said that the tax authorities have been mandated to pursue an aggressive tax-compliance campaign to collect unpaid revenues. In this regard, the Government will also be stepping up its efforts to drag delinquent taxpayers into the net, earmarking an increase of nearly $20 billion in income taxes, while company taxes are forecast to increase by $4 billion. Read more here

Dominica PM accuses opposition of masterminding attempt to overthrow government

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, in a national address on Wednesday night that Dominicans were eagerly anticipating, did not mince words when he accused the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) of masterminding an attempt to overthrow the government. One day after the UWP hosted a rally demanding that Skerrit step done, and after subsequent riots wreaked havoc on the streets of Roseau, causing damage to several businesses, the prime minister called out the two parties, indicating that, based on intelligence received from reliable sources, police were made aware of a planned coup. “Now it is important for me to share with you the plan, which was relayed to intelligence personnel in the Dominica Police Force. Fortunately, for us all, not every member of the United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party is supportive of the militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership. So, details of the plan had already been shared with the police and security officials,” Skerrit informed. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

France security: 'Suicide bomber plot foiled' in Montpellier

A suspected would-be suicide bomber was one of four people arrested in the southern French city of Montpellier by anti-terrorist police. Home-made explosives similar to those used in the Paris attacks of November 2015 were also discovered, police and judicial sources said. A girl of 16 was arrested along with three young men. Since the beginning of 2015, at least 230 people have been killed in jihadist attacks in France. Last month, a soldier received minor injuries when a machete-wielding man tried to enter the Louvre museum in Paris. The man, a 29-year-old Egyptian named as Abdullah Hamamy, was shot and critically injured. The four suspects in Montpellier were arrested after buying acetone, a police source told AFP news agency. Acetone is an ingredient used in the making of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a high explosive. TATP, the same explosive used in bomb vests worn by militants in the Paris attacks, was found in the city along with the acetone, a judicial source said. Read more here

Trump finds the limits of executive power

President Donald Trump suffered more than a legal defeat of his immigration ban Thursday night. He ran smack into the limits of executive power. Three federal judges unanimously refused to restore the White House's controversial travel ban, laying down the most significant marker yet that Trump's vision of an administration rooted in the muscular use of executive power -- similar to that he enjoyed as a business leader -- will not go unchallenged. Read more here

10th February 2017

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