Daily Brief - Thursday 12th January, 2017

NEWS

Saint Flees

Only one month after being hired as the head coach of the national football team, Tom Saintfiet announced his resignation from the post yesterday, citing a lack of support from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). Belgian-born Saintfiet, who replaced Stephen Hart, was officially introduced as the head coach on December 7 hoping to bring some positive results especially in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March when TT takes on Panama and Mexico. However, after three losses from four matches, which included defeats against Suriname (2-1) and Haiti (4- 3), which saw TT knocked out of Gold Cup contention, Saintfiet has stepped down. Saintfiet in his resignation letter stated, “I would like to inform you all that I have decided to resign, today Tuesday 10 January 2017 as national team coach of Trinidad and Tobago. Read more here

AG: 3,478 child marriages in 20 years

Between 1996 and 2016, the Registrar General recorded 3,478 child marriages, with almost 98 per cent being females. Further, marriage certificates showed that some of them were girls as young as 11 and 12 who were married to men as old as 36, 42 and 56. These statistics were disclosed by Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi in the Senate yesterday afternoon as he piloted the Miscellaneous Provisions Marriage Bill 2016. The bill seeks to raise the age of marriage to 18, as recommended by the United Nations, Al-Rawi said. Read more here

Four senior cops face ‘retirement’ requests

At least four senior police offi­cers are expected to be served with letters this week, signed by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, urging that they retire from the organisation for failure to perform. Sources told the Express yesterday that the decision by Williams on Tuesday to request the resignation of Snr Supt John Trim of the Eastern Division and Snr Supt Simbonath Rajkumar of the Inter Agency Task Force had caused a feeling of unease in the First Division of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) as it was “one of the first of its kind” in the organisation. As a result, officers in the First Division—which includes policemen and women between the rank of Asst Supt of Police (ASP) and above —are expected to hold a meeting this week to discuss how this new action would impact the service. The officers are expected to meet under ASP Mohammed, who looks out for the interests of the First Division officers who form part of the TTPS Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA). Read more here

 

POLITICS

Senate President blanks crime debate

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon yesterday outlined several strategies which law enforcement agencies are taking to combat the murder of teenagers in TT. Dillon did so as he responded to a question on the issue from Opposition Senator Wade Mark in the Senate. Later in the sitting, Senate President Christine Kangaloo turned down a request from Mark for the Senate to debate murders in the country as a definite matter of urgent public importance. Dillon told senators the matters referred to by Mark took place last September. “Since that time, the TT Police Service has put several initiatives in place to complement its normal operations to deal with criminal activities,” the minister said. Read more here

Prime Minister's address to the nation

Good evening fellow citizens. Please permit me to begin this short address by extending to each and every one of you a bright, productive, safe and prosperous 2017. Early in December it was my initial intention to do the usual end of year wide-ranging address but given the simmering but very real threat of major disturbance emanating from the operations of Petrotrin, I knew whatever the outcome, I would have been required to address the nation on this particular challenge, which is of interest not only to the workers and union at Petrotrin but to each and every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. Read more here

Imbert: No impact on national debt yet

Government does not anticipate the five per cent wage increase at Petrotrin would have any impact on the national debt “at this time”, Finance Minister Colm Imbert stated yesterday in the Senate. He was responding to an urgent question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark.
Mark asked Imbert to indicate whether Government intended to borrow money in order to meet the obligation. “It is not our intention at this time,” was Imbert’s cryptic reply. Mark asked how the Government intended to finance the five per cent settlement. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

NGC chairman: Petrotrin to be re-engineered

Chairman of the NGC Group of Companies Gerry C Brooks said yesterday that a number of re-engineering options are being considered for cash-strapped Petrotrin. Although he steered clear of a direct response to a question about the possible privatisation of State-owned company, Brooks said he is optimistic that the company can become profitable once more. Brooks, who was responding to questions from reporters at the re-opening of the $4 million BP Carrousel Service Station in San Fernando, said: “There is a need to look at how you re-engineer Petrotrin in a way that is relevant.” Noting that oil prices are currently at US $53 a barrel at the height of a very cold winter, the challenge is how to re-engineer Petrotrin to restructure its debt and improve productivity. He said it is extremely important that the union, Gvernment and the board of Petrotrin addressNGC those issues in the interest of Petrotrin and the country. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

UK minister discusses crime, human rights and Brexit in St Kitts-Nevis

The potential implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, now widely known as “Brexit”, was one of the matters discussed when St Kitts and Nevis’ prime minister, Dr Timothy Harris met on Tuesday with high level British officials including Baroness Joyce Anelay, minister of state for the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Harris described it as a “highly productive” meeting, which allowed for the exchange on matters of mutual interest. “We discussed several matters from issues of cooperation in the area of public safety and security, we looked at issues involving cooperation in prison reform, we looked at matters to do with human rights and strengthening our capacities and capabilities in this area. Read more here

Violence Spilling Into Schools - Principals Say Conflicts Escalate To Dangerous Levels Outside Institutions' Walls

Principals say conflicts escalate to dangerous levels outside institutions' walls. The bloodletting taking place in Clarendon is starting to spill into many of the schools, with some students getting caught in the orgy of violence affecting the parish. From children who boast about the communities in which they live as part of efforts to scare their classmates, to others who make calls to adults to intervene in minor disputes, or those who just avoid morning devotions, school communities are now finding themselves affected. "At school, we have mostly minor conflicts, but they escalate when they leave here because we don't have a tight rein out there. We see persons interfering in student conflicts and escalating them," said Wayne Evans, principal of the Bustamante High School. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Trump Organization handover plan slammed by ethics chief

The director of the US Office of Government Ethics has criticised Donald Trump's plan to hand control of his business empire to his sons before his inauguration on 20 January. The plan does not match the "standards" of US presidents over the last 40 years, Walter Shaub said. A Trump lawyer said earlier the new trust would face "severe restrictions" on new deals. But Mr Shaub said the plan would not remove conflicts of interest. "Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture," he said, referring to a process whereby Mr Trump would sell off his corporate assets and put the profits into a blind trust run by an independent trustee. At a news conference on Wednesday, lawyer Sherri Dillon said that management of the Trump Organization would be transferred to a trust controlled by Mr Trump's sons Don and Eric and chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Read more here

Trump: 'I think it was Russia'

President-elect Donald Trump said for the first time Wednesday he believes Russia was responsible for hacking ahead of the election but contemptuously rejected allegations that Moscow mounted a campaign to compromise him. In his first news conference since winning the election, a combative Trump made clear he will not mute his style when he is inaugurated in nine days. He lashed out at media and political foes alike in a bravura performance. Read more here

12th January 2017

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