Daily Brief - Friday 12th May, 2017

NEWS

Rowley the Woodsman

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday skipped debate on the mid-year Budget review in Parliament, journeying instead to Maper Farm in Biche where he inspected over a million tree saplings. The tree types included mango, avocado, citrus, softwood and hardwood some of which will be planted along sloping areas of the Northern Range left denuded by raging forest fires. It is understood that Rowley gave Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat a mandate to have a million saplings ready for planting in time for the rainy season. And yesterday’s tour was to allow Rowley to see what progress was made on this initiative. He then made his way to Ecclesville in Rio Claro, where the PM viewed facilities at the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry division branch. Read more here

No bail for woman who pretended to be cop

Sylvia Bonas, who spent last night in a prison cell for allegedly impersonating a police officer at the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday, will reappear in the same court today. The 22-year-old accountant was arrested yesterday after officers became suspicious after they saw Bonas wearing a black jersey with words police and the T&T Police Service logo and motto on it inside the courthouse. It is alleged that she told PC Crawford she was a police officer, but when he asked her for her police identification card she could not produce it. She was charged after inquires revealed she was not a member of the TTPS. Read more here

First Peoples get holiday

A one-off official holiday will be observed on October 13, 2017, for the First Peoples. Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly stated yesterday that Cabinet has granted the holiday in acknowledgement of the calls by the First Peoples for greater national recognition of their history and customs. Read more here

  

POLITICS

Govt tackling drug shortages

Health  Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday said that people who rely on the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP) for drugs to treat their illnesses can be assured that those drugs are,”safe and effective.” In his contribution to debate in the House of Representatives on a motion to approve the Standing Finance Committee report, Deyalsingh said Government is moving aggressively to address the issue of drug shortages in TT. He said nearly one million people are treated at the country’s four major hospitals and taxpayers are being short-changed when it comes to drug shortages. Noting that $760 million is allocated in the 2017 Budget for pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical items, Deyalsingh said health could be a “bottomless pit,” especially when it comes to drug procurement. Read more here

UNC claims TSTT board didn’t okay $255m Massy price

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says there is now a heightened need for an inquiry into the recent purchase of Massy Communications by TSTT for $255 million. Persad-Bissessar made the call during a press conference during yesterday’s tea break in the Parliament, in the wake of two new pieces of information she said her party received. She said TSTT had taken out a $1.9 billion deed of debenture from Republic Bank and the purchase price for Massy Communications was $30 million in excess of the board-approved limit. The former prime minister said: “This definitely demands that an enquiry be done with respect to the entire (Massy/TSTT) deal and now this $1.9 billion dollar loan.” Read more here

Gopeesingh calls on Integrity Commission to launch probe

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has been referred to the Integrity Commission by his predecessor, Dr Tim Gopeesingh. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Farrell warns Govt on informal Forex controls

Dr Terrence Farrell, chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board, has sounded the alarm on what he sees as a potentially dangerous development in the foreign exchange situation. Giving his comments during an armchair discussion at the first instalment of the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Transformation Series, “Is Oil and Gas Smothering the Private Sector in Trinidad and Tobago?”, Farrell agreed with Ronald Hinds, chamber president, that the institution of what appeared to be informal controls in distributing forex was a “slippery slope.” Farrell, who identified himself as a director of Republic Bank, said banks were responsible for selling foreign exchange to the public, while the Central Bank’s job was to disburse that foreign exchange to the market. He pointed out that the Minister of Finance was telling the Central Bank to tell the commercial banks they must prioritise manufacturers. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

No Ganja Babies - Tufton Vows To Protect Vulnerable From Ill Effects Of Marijuana

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has declared that he remains strongly dedicated to protecting vulnerable Jamaicans, particularly children, from the harmful effects of smoking marijuana, despite his plans to bat for recognition of the medicinal value of the weed when he participates in the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month. Tufton will be leading a team to the assembly - a decision-making body of the World Health Organization - on May 22, where Jamaica is expected to present a position to have cannabis removed from 'Schedule One', which states that marijuana has no medicinal benefits but is purely a narcotic substance. Read more here

Bahamas opposition wins landslide election victory

Bahamian voters on Wednesday delivered a wholesale and brutal rejection of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in an election that saw a wipeout of the former Cabinet, including political giants like outgoing prime minister Perry Christie, and the rise to power of Dr Hubert Minnis and his Free National Movement (FNM). It was resoundingly clear by 9 pm on Wednesday that the PLP had been voted out of office, and that voters had sent a strong message to the former administration that it did not approve of its performance. After representing the Centreville constituency for 40 years, Christie became the first prime minister of The Bahamas to lose his seat. Read more here

 

INTERNTAIONAL

Trump's anger could lead down a dangerous road

Presidents often get angry, but most go to great lengths to hide their fits of rage and the impression that red faced fury rules their actions. Not Donald Trump. In three-and-a-half months in office, the 45th President has shown that indignation, impulsiveness and a prickly desire to protect his own self image are at the core of his governing philosophy. The latest example of the President's simmering fury has emerged in the aftermath of his firing of James Comey this week, apparently the culmination of long-brewing animosity towards the FBI director. Trump gave a glimpse of his irritation and impatience with Comey during an interview with NBC News on Thursday. Read more here

Kushner family business cancels China business pitch

The company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, has pulled out of presentations planned for China this weekend. Kushner Companies was scheduled to pitch real estate opportunities to investors in the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou at the weekend. But last week, Mr Kushner's sister, Nicole Meyer Kushner, came under fire for using his name in a pitch. Critics accused the business of playing up the family's White House links. The company said the comments were misconstrued but has apologised. Ms Meyer and Kushner Companies president Laurent Morali had been included in promotional material for the upcoming events. But on Thursday, James Yolles, a spokesman for the firm, said in a statement: "No one from Kushner Companies will be in China this weekend." Read more here

12th May 2017

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