Daily Brief - Tuesday 31st January, 2017

NEWS

Pm Slams Terror Expert

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday condemned allegations by former United States Navy Petty Officer Malcolm Nance that TT was among a group of countries which had more terrorists than seven predominantly Muslim countries, whose citizens have been banned by US President Donald Trump from entering the United States. Those countries are Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. The ban also includes citizens from those countries who have dual American citizenship. In a statement, Rowley declared, “Mr Nance’s broad and simplistic statement is not supported by fact and ignores the robust and substantial national security cooperative partnership between TT and the United States.” Rowley, who is chairman of the National Security Council (NSC) and holds the security portfolio in Caricom’s quasi-Cabinet, further declared, “TT’s unshakeable commitment to combatting terrorism and religious extremism in all its forms, cannot be called into question.” We will continue to work with our partners in the international community, particularly the United States, our major trading partner, until this threat to world order and security is addressed, he added. Rowley explained it is against this background that he participated in the high level regional security conference of Caricom and the US which took place in Washington DC in May. Read more here

Autopsy delays anger families

Operations at the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) were stalled for seven hours yesterday as no pathologist showed up for work. Last-minute arrangements had to be made by FSC officials to “fly-in” pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes from Tobago to conduct autopsies on about seven bodies—victims of murder and homicides—that occurred over the weekend. The hours of wait were sometimes difficult to bear and some relatives were heard shouting for some kind of intervention and action by the relevant authorities. Read more here

3 men asking about Carmona’s whereabouts released from custody

Three men who went to the private residence of President Anthony Carmona in Blanchisseuse last week and enquired when next he would be at the house have been released from custody. The men were said to have been detained last Friday evening by officers of the Maracas Police Station. According to reports, the men went to Carmona's home and enquired from the caretaker when next the President would be there, and even left a phone number for the caretaker to contact them. The three men then entered a black Nissan X-Trail and left. A report was made to the police and a team of officers from the North Eastern Division intercepted the X-Trail in the Maracas Bay area. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Duke hits Rowley’s feteing

Minority Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Watson Duke yesterday slammed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for being at a Carnival fete at a time when the nation is bleeding, with 52 murders being committed in the first month of this year. At a press conference yesterday at the Public Services Association (PSA) officer in Port-of-Spain, Duke who is also PSA President, displayed a newspaper photo of Dr Rowley at the annual Bishop Anstey High School all-inclusive fete on Saturday. “It irks me to see the Prime Minister frolicking at a Carnival party when crime is on the increase,” Duke said. He also knocked new THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles for saying he (Charles) had no crime plan. “When the Chief Secretary says he has no crime plan that seemed to me to be a window for criminals. Read more here

Issue more guns to citizens —Kamla

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says citizens should be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves and their families from the criminals in T&T. She made that call during a news conference at her Charles Street, Port-of-Spain office yesterday. Persad-Bissessar said the country has recorded the highest number of murders for any January month in the country’s post Independence history. There were 53 murders with seven bodies still unclassified within the first 29 days of the year, she told reporters. She said the country was experiencing “a degree of terrifying brutality” and it seems to have “descended into anarchy where no one is safe.” Read more here

Kamla not firing Ramdeen

United National Congress (UNC) Senator Gerald Ramdeen will not be fired, says Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Persad-Bissessar was yesterday asked whether Ramdeen will continue to serve in the Parliament given the fact that he is now under two investigations. She was speaking at a news conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Charles street, Port of Spain. “I think there are very clear interests to target members of the Opposition, especially who are more vocal in raising issues on behalf of citizens,” she said. The Sunday Express reported that Ramdeen is being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Investigative Bureau (ACIB) for failing to dispense $.2 million to a client following a court order for damages in 2009. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Business chambers react to TT’s fall in corruption index

Trinidad and Tobago’s decline on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has been described by the heads of two business Chambers as “unfortunate” and “unsurprising” given the nation’s high tolerance for corrupt practices. The nation’s CPI score, which measures perceptions of corruption within the public service by polling the opinions of business leaders and country experts and ranks 176 countries on a scale of one to 100, has slipped four points, from 39 in 2015, to 35 in 2016. The lower the score, the more corrupt the country is perceived as being. The country has also declined from its place at 72 in 2015, to a current ranking of 101 out of the 176 countries. Read more here

JMMB launches global trading

JMMB Investments (T&T) CEO Ronald Carter says that given the subdued economic environment likely to obtain in T&T in 2017, and a strengthening global economy, local investors should look to international markets to bolster their investments. Carter was delivering the opening address at a seminar at the Courtyard Marriott hosted by JMMB Investments focused on global investment opportunities. The event also showcased the JMMB Interactive investment platform, a partnership between JMMB Investments and international brokerage house Interactive Brokers, which allows local investors access to a suite of brokerage, trading and wealth management services across global financial markets. Read more here

$256m recovered from Pt Fortin highway dispute

A Spanish bank was ordered by the London Court of Appeal to pay over $256 million to State-owned National Infrastructure Development Co Ltd (NIDCO) on behalf of its “standby letter of credit” client, Brazil's Construtora OAS, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young confirmed via text message yesterday. London's Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld an earlier summary judgment ordering Spain-based Banco Santander SA to pay NIDCO US$38 million per the terms of letters of credit issued for Brazilian construction firm, OAS Construtora, he confirmed. The panel of two judges unanimously upheld the September decision of London's High Court Judge Robin Knowles in NIDCO's favour. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Two more Haitian migrant vessels intercepted in Turks and Caicos

As police and immigration officials in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) continue to search for bodies that may still be in the waters of the North West Point area of Providenciales from an illegal Haitian migrant vessel that capsized last Tuesday, two more illegal Haitian vessels were intercepted late Sunday night and the early hours of Monday as they attempted to make landfall. At around 11:30 pm on Sunday, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Marine Police intercepted a blue and brown 36-foot wooden boat three miles from South Dock. The boat, which was powered by two engines, had 125 souls on board (98 males, 27 females and two juveniles). Marine Police later intercepted a green, red and gray 25-foot wooden boat at around 4:15 am on Monday morning, some two miles away from Five Cays. It was powered by one Tohatsu engine and had a total of 53 souls on board (46 males and seven females). Read more here

No Disrespect! - Bankers Say They Are Willing To Work With Lawmakers On Fees

As debate on the vexed issue of exorbitant banking fees continues to attract widespread public attention, president of the Jamaica Bankers' Association, Nigel Holness, is rushing to the defence of the banking sector, saying its membership has not disrespected the Jamaican Parliament. "We have the utmost respect for our parliamentarians because they represent the people of Jamaica, who are our customers, so there is a lot of respect for them," Holness told The Gleaner yesterday after a prolonged meeting with lawmaker Fitz Jackson. "And, Mr Jackson, we commend him for what he is doing, because it's about the people, and I do believe that from this point, it's really working closer together so we can ensure that we are on the same path, because at the end of the day, it's all about the customer," he added. Read more here 

 

INTERNATIONAL

Obama 'fundamentally disagrees' with Trump's immigration order

Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump's executive order curbing immigration in a statement on Monday, backing protesters who have taken to the nation's airports to express their displeasure with Trump's action on Friday. "The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," said Kevin Lewis, spokesman for the former president, in a statement. Read more here

Trump sacks defiant acting attorney general Sally Yates

Donald Trump has fired the acting US attorney general after she questioned the legality of his immigration ban. Sally Yates, who was appointed by Barack Obama, ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president's executive order. A White House statement accused Ms Yates of "betraying" the justice department and being "weak on borders". Mr Trump replaced her with Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mr Boente said he was "honoured to serve President Trump" and immediately directed his department to enforce the controversial order. Mr Trump also replaced the acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale, who has been in the post since 20 January. He is the former deputy director. Read more here

31st January 2017

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