Daily Brief - Thursday 4th May, 2017

NEWS

Agony

Their murders shocked an entire village and yesterday members of that village came out to wish murder victims Saleesha Faith Joseph, five, and her father Solomon “Poodle” Joseph a final, tearful farewell at their funeral service. Kernisha Bissoon was inconsolable as she moved from the casket bearing her daughter’s remains to the one that contained Joseph’s body. Saleesha, the apple of her parents’ eyes and well-loved by all who knew her in the quiet village, was dressed all in white with a tiara, studded with glittering gemstones, adorning her little head. Both daughter and father appeared to be sleeping, with a peaceful look on their faces, little solace to those attending the funeral who knew of how they met their end. Sometime between last week Thursday and Friday, little Saleesha, a first-year student of the Caparo Roman Catholic Primary School and Joseph were shot and killed at her mother’s home at Leekham Road in Mamoral. To date, their killer/s remain at large although a woman and five men were questioned by police before being released. Read more here

Sabga’s lifelong enduring lesson: Never give up

With the passing of Dr Anthony Norman Sabga, ORTT, at age 94, the nation has lost perhaps the last of the generation of men and women of will and determination, who created and shaped the independent state of Trinidad & Tobago in ways which will define it in the 21st century. Sabga was born in 1923 in Syria and came here in 1930, riding a global wave of migration which continued through the 20th century. He began his life in humble circumstances, living in rented rooms on Nelson Street in Port-of-Spain, just off Marine Square (now the Brian Lara Promenade). The family comprised his two brothers, George and Solomon, two sisters, Jamily and Zariffi, and parents. His father had managed to open a small haberdashery on Queen Street in Port-of-Spain, NS Sabga & Sons. Read more here

Man with the ‘Midas Touch’

A captain of industry, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) said Sabga’s passing has left a void in the business landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. “An entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word, Dr Sabga who was fondly labelled as the man with the ‘Midas Touch’, paved the way for one of the largest conglomerates in Trinidad and Tobago when he ventured out of the family business on his own to begin his legacy with Standard Distributors. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Kamla benefitted from no property tax

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says his predecessor Kamla Persad-Bissessar benefited from the many tax amnesties granted by her former People’s Partnership administration, by not paying property tax on her private residence in Philippine, South Trinidad over the last five years. After making this claim at a People’s National Movement (PNM) public meeting at the Diego Martin Community Centre Tuesday night, the Prime Minister called on Persad-Bissessar to obey the law and, “Pay your property tax!” PNM supporters cheered as Rowley declared, “I own property and I will be in the forefront of paying the tax.” However, he said Persad-Bissessar and other Opposition parliamentarians who, “who took an oath to defend your interests, are out there asking you to disobey the law.” Condemning calls by Persad-Bissessar for citizens not to pay property tax and then promising to abolish it, if re-elected, Rowley quipped, “I think we have to ask her how much tax she paid on the mansion in Philippine for the last five years.” Read more here

Minister: Public gyms to help keep population fit

As the Ministry of Health steps up efforts to reclaim T&T from the scourge of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) currently crippling it, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the Government is committed to doing everything to ensure the next generation is more healthy and fit. Among the efforts will be the establishment of public outdoor gyms in strategic locations and the introduction of a national physical activity plan specially targeting the elderly and children. While the funding for these initiatives will come from a US$48.4 million loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Deyalsingh said other efforts would be channeled into a massive public education campaign in a bid to transform the mental and physical well-being of the population. Read more here

‘All set for today’s SEA exam’

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said yesterday every effort has been made to ensure the smooth running of today’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam, which will take place at 546 primary schools serving as examination centres across Trinidad and Tobago. Garcia told the Express not only has the ministry put its all into ensuring a comfortable and stress-free experience for the pupils sitting the exam, but priority has been placed on securing the exam papers and results. A leak in June last year of what had appeared to be that year’s exam results, ahead of the official release date, had caused alarm over the overall validity of the exam. The ministry had then described the action as a sinister plot to destabilise the system and ­tarnish its image. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Elias: Details of TSTT’s Massy deal confidential

Public Accounts Enterprises Committee (PAEC) chairman Senator Wade Mark and member Senator David Small chided TSTT chairman Emile Elias for his reluctance to provide details of a full business appraisal done before the purchase of Massy Communications by TSTT. At yesterday’s PAEC hearing at the J Hamilton Maurice Room, Tower D, Port-of-Spain, Elias cited business confidentiality in a very competitive environment as the reason for declining to give information. “We don’t want to be exposed to the very competitors we want to terrorise. I respectfully decline,” he said. Read more here

T&T launches new aid-for-trade strategy

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon admitted that T&T has “numerous” trade-related challenges and there was need for more support for exporters, since increased trade has the potential to grow T&T’s economy. She added that support for exporters is outlined in the national Aid for Trade Strategy 2016-2019 (AfTS). The AfTS was launched last week, and comes on the heels of the Standard and Poors’ April 21 announcement that T&T’s sovereign credit rating had been downgraded to BBB+ and Moody’s downgrade of the sovereign to “junk bond” status, as well as the suggestion by both rating agencies that T&T should find an alternative means of revenue generation outside of the energy sector. Read more here

Tributes flow for ‘titan of business’

The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM T&T) said yesterday it was “deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Anthony Sabga”. Sabga, the chairman emeritus of the ANSA McAL conglomerate, died yesterday morning. He was 94. “Dr Sabga led a remarkable life. He was a true pioneer and titan of business. He played a significant role in the creation and development of several businesses in T&T and has left an indelible mark on the economic landscape of the entire Caribbean. Deeply committed to the development of the region, Dr Sabga supported numerous social causes through the ANSA McAL Foundation,” AMCHAM T&T said in a statement. The business group said his life “stands as a testament to the value of hard work, commitment and extraordinary vision. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Protests still spreading in Venezuela, despite political repression

Protests are still spreading across Venezuela, and the number of deaths is rising, as the crisis between the government and the opposition boils over. Both the Bolivarian National Guard and government-sponsored armed forces have been accused of attempted assassinations. Social media users and non-governmental organizations have also recorded a slew of human rights violations. According to Amnesty International's report on Venezuela, the police are taking protesters to military courts, where they can be arrested without evidence. Read more here

$3.5b Health Fix - Gov't Dips Into NHF Purse To Pay For Major Sector Overhaul

Jamaica's health sector is to undergo a major overhaul in the next two years, with the Government sourcing $3.5 billion from the National Health Fund (NHF) to repair, replace, and upgrade critical infrastructure across the country. Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that the Government is taking a proactive approach to prevent a collapse of the country's health infrastructure, stating that the problems bedevilling the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James are symptomatic of how "we generally approach the maintenance of health infrastructure". The hospital was faced with a crisis earlier this year as noxious fumes from the air conditioning unit severely affected both staff and patients at the institution. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Prince Philip to step down from carrying out royal engagements

The Duke of Edinburgh is retiring from royal duties this autumn, Buckingham Palace has announced. The decision was made by Prince Philip himself and is supported by the Queen, a palace spokesman said. The duke, who turns 96 next month, will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August but will not accept new invitations. The Queen "will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements", the palace said. The duke carried out 110 days of engagements in 2016, making him the fifth busiest member of the royal family, according to Court Circular listings. Read more here

Girl Scout stands up to demonstrator at neo-Nazi rally

The juxtaposition in the photo is startling: On the left, gesturing angrily, is a right-wing demonstrator sporting black clothes, sunglasses and a shaved head. On the right, staring right back at him, is a 16-year-old Girl Scout. An amateur photographer snapped the image Monday at a May Day rally in the Czech Republic, where neo-Nazis and right-wing demonstrators were met with peaceful resistance from counter-protesters. The photo has been widely shared and has called attention to the Girl Scout, Lucie Myslíková. "She was standing tall and she's 16 years old and she stood proud and made some profound arguments," Vladimir Cicmanec, who took the photo, told CNN. Cicmanec, a computer programmer and amateur photographer, attended the counter demonstration in the Czech city of Brno. Read more here

4th May 2017

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