Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:25:55 +0000 $15m spent to prepare for property tax

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert reported that more than $15 million has been spent on hiring field officers to conduct assessments on buildings and other assets as part of the implementation of property tax. He was speaking Thursday as the Standing Finance Committee examined the estimates of the Finance Ministry. Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo asked about $7 million for travelling and subsistence, an increase of $4 million. Imbert said this had to do with the intention to step up visits to properties for valuations for the collection of property tax. Tancoo also asked about a line item for $17 million for contract employment. Imbert explained that in 2020 the ministry brought on a significant number of field officers and the process for the implementation of property tax. He also reported there were 333 contract positions for the implementation of the property tax. Mayaro MP Rushton Paray asked if the number of officers was sufficient to complete the number of homes to trigger the property tax (50 per cent) and Imbert replied the ministry was utilising a variety of approaches including databases. He added if additional workers are required the ministry will approach Cabinet to get more staff. Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein asked the pe

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:22:57 +0000 No danger posed by Nabarima

ENERGY Minister Franklin Khan and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne sought to assure the nation on Thursday that there is no danger posed by Venezuelan-registered oil tanker FSO Nabarima which is anchored in the Gulf of Paria. With 1.3 million barrels of crude oil in its storage tanks there has been growing unease both locally, regionally and internationally after claims were made that the vessel was listing to one side and slowly sinking. However, at a virtual press conference to reveal the findings of a TT team of experts who boarded the vessel on Tuesday, on the invitation of the Venezuelan government, Khan and Browne said there is concrete evidence the vessel is upright, stable, with no visible tilt and no imminent risk of tilting or sinking. However, Browne said there will be no sharing of images taken during the visit to the vessel because it is a “sensitive asset” for Venezuela and its petrochemical industry. Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has been pressing government to make public, videographic evidence of the vessel’s stability because of what the group said were doctored pictures which were issued recently. Khan said he is satisfied with the findings of the TT team who were the first vi

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:20:54 +0000 Chote challenges CJ’s ban on in-person trials

A LEGAL challenge to the Chief Justice’s covid19 emergency practice directions, which ban in-person hearings, has been mounted by a man who is before the court on a corruption charge. New practice directions came into effect on Monday and direct judges and magistrates to adjourn cases if it is impossible to try them electronically. Rajesh Ramgobin, a former police officer who was charged in 2006 on three corruption charges relating to taking a $3,000 bribe, opted in September for a judge-alone trial which was expected to begin virtually on Monday before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds. The prosecution, in keeping with a position it adopted in July that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will not be used as a courthouse for witnesses to give evidence, filed submissions asking for an in-person hearing. In a separate objection, Ramgobin’s attorneys Sophia Chote, SC, and Peter Carter are challenging the court’s authority to hear the trial electronically. Chote said on Thursday the defence had previously asked for the prosecution’s main witness to be cross-examined face-to-face, while acknowledging that there was no absolute right to a confrontation. Chote said while other aspects of the trial could have proceeded

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:32:01 +0000 Duke: No election rigging in PSA

PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke flatly denied claims by rival candidate for the union presidency, Curtis Cuffie, of a plot to use computer software to rig the November 23 election. Cuffie led members of his Concerned Public Officers (CPO) team at a briefing on the steps of the PSA office in Port of Spain on Thursday to level his charges, which Duke countered with two colleagues of his Game Changers slate in a social media video. Cuffie said the candidacy of one of his team’s candidates, Michelle Brown, was now being unlawfully challenged by the Duke team, being up for discussion at Friday’s meeting of the PSA general council. Brown said she was not personally told of any challenge to her nomination. “It seems like Mr Duke and his executive want to postpone the election,” she hit. “You’re trying to find all kind of nonsense to stop the election.” CPO candidate for first vice president Loretta George said it will be a breach of PSA rules for Brown’s nomination to be determined by the general council. She quoted the rules which say a challenge is first determined by the Elections Officer, with any dissatisfied party free to appeal to the Elections Committee whose ruling can in turn be appealed to the genera

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:37:55 +0000 Skerritt: Non-contracted players free to ply trade elsewhere

PRESIDENT of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt is hoping regional players will choose to play for the West Indies before T20 leagues, but the board will not punish non-contract players for plying their trade around the world. Skerritt, in an interview on the SportsMax Zone, on Tuesday, said CWI has not received a No Objection Certificate from a particular West Indies player and will assume he is not playing in the Lanka (Sri Lanka) Premier League until they receive that document. The CWI president did not mention Russell’s name, but the Jamaican power hitter is the only West Indies player who was drafted to play in the Lanka Premier League (LPL) who chose not to tour New Zealand with the West Indies. The regional team will play New Zealand in three T20s from November 27 to 30, followed by a two-match Test series bowling off on December 3. “That particular player is not contracted to Cricket West Indies. Some years ago the courts basically told Cricket West Indies that you cannot restrain the trade of players you have not contracted otherwise. So where a player like him is not contracted he has every legal right to ply his trade wherever he seeks to or deems appropriate for him to do so even if he is invited to play for Cricket West Indies.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:36:35 +0000 Fearless speakers for TEDx PoS

THIS year's TEDx Port of Spain, like almost every event since March, is going virtual for its tenth anniversary. The TEDx co-ordinators had big plans for this milestone event. The speakers were chosen by January, and to celebrate the tenth anniversary, TEDx would have been held on the tenth day of the tenth month. When they realised the event would not happen, plans were first cancelled, but Dennise Demming, co-licence owner of TEDx Port of Spain, said she knew the group had to celebrate despite the pandemic. "We became competent in an in-person conference and covid happened, so we've had to pivot away from an in-person conference to a virtual online conference...For a long time we were immobilised by fear. We decided no matter what, we would have it. We wanted to have it on the tenth of the tenth, but we pushed it back. We can't have the tenth anniversary pass and covid stop us. That's why we had it on October 24," Demming said. TEDx is using a platform called Hubilo, a virtual event platform, in addition to Zoom for tomorrow's event. "The platform, laid on top of Zoom, gives you a virtual experience. We are trying to mimic a new approach. It virtual-mimics what we've been accustomed to with our in-person experience...If we were having it a

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:34:09 +0000 Rock Hard Distributors donates 200 laptops

Rock Hard Distributors Ltd is the latest member of corporate TT to donate electronic devices to the Ministry of Education’s Adopt-a-School initiative. The company, a member of the Ramhit Group of companies, issued a statement on Tuesday which said it has given approximately 200 students from nine schools devices to support their home-based learning. Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly received the devices at the ministry's Education Towers in Port of Spain on Tuesday. Managing director of Rock Hard Cement TT Mr Ryan Ramhit said the 200 devices form part of a commitment of 2,000 devices to be donated by the group. Students also received novels and stationary supplies. The release said Gadsby-Dolly thanked all corporate sponsors who have donated thus far to the initiative. “Many people are surprised by how citizens have stepped up,” she said. "However, I issued the call knowing the type of people we have here in this country, certain that we all want to see TT succeed. And what better way to do so than through an investment into our children?” Mamoral RC Primary will receive 20 devices; Maracas SDA Primary will get 25; La Horquetta North and South will receive 20 devices each; Arima West Gover

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:39:03 +0000 Wallace willing to take FIFA case to Privy Council

TT Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace is not ruling out the possibility of taking his ongoing battle against world football body FIFA all the way to the Privy Council if he has to. Wallace told Newsday on Thursday the idea of taking the case to the London courts – TT’s highest appellate court – if the Court of Appeal’s decision is not in his favour, is something he “cannot disagree with.” It is now nearly eight months since Wallace began his legal battle against FIFA after it removed his administration and appointed a normalisation committee to run the affairs of local football, on March 17. FIFA insisted the move was not victimisation and that the decision was made because of “a massive debt” and financial woes. It also refused to acknowledge TT’s High Court as a legitimate option for the hearing after Wallace appealed. It said the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland is the only court it recognises for such disputes. Initially, Wallace and his attorneys – Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle – appealed to the CAS but withdrew, moving to TT’s High Court, as they believed they would not get a “fair hearing” from the Swiss c

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Fri, 23, Oct, 2020 07:01:00 GMT Black voters face many hurdles

MISSISSIPPI, United States (AP) — The old civil rights worker was sure the struggle would be over by now. He'd fought so hard back in the '60s. He'd seen the wreckage of burned churches, and the injuries of people who had been beaten. He'd seen men in white hoods. At its worst, he'd mourned three young men who were fighting for black Mississippians to gain the right to vote, and who were kidnapped and executed on a country road just north of here.

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Fri, 23, Oct, 2020 07:01:00 GMT Calling all dons

JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck has issued a come hither appeal to feuding gangs and dons islandwide, to use restorative justice as a channel for settling disputes.

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Fri, 23, Oct, 2020 07:01:00 GMT 'We will shut you down!'

MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has issued a stern warning to operators of private nursing homes that they could be shuttered if they fail to comply with the Government-recommended prevention and control protocols to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2020 00:36:54 +0000 TT-born director selected for Oscars committee

TT-BORN, Canadian award-winning film director Frances-Anne Solomon will now be a part of the group reviewing candidates for an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation responsible for the Oscars. She will serve on the Directors Branch Executive Committee for a year. Solomon received the news this week from academy governors Ava DuVernay, Rodrigo Garcia and Steven Spielberg. The e-mail sent to her said, “You were selected to serve because we and our branch members consider you to be a thoughtful, creative and innovative representative for the branch.” Solomon’s Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr Ulric Cross opened this year’s Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. She joined the academy last year. “It was a wonderful experience to see a show I’ve watched on television for so many years unfold right before my eyes. And now being a part of the Directors Branch Executive Committee where my voice will be heard and valued in the film community is an honour,” she said in the release. Solomon was one of 842 new invitees – half of them women and one third people of colour – in a move to improve the diversity of

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 22:34:20 +0000 Epsilon is now a category 2 hurricane

The National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Hurricane Epsilon, located over the west-central Atlantic a couple of hundred miles east-southeast of Bermuda. Epsilon is expected to make its closest approach Thursday or Friday. Epsilon became the fourth major hurricane of the 2020 season, along with Laura, Teddy, and Delta, and the second major hurricane to form in October. Large swells generated by Epsilon will affect Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, the Leeward Islands, the east coast of the United States, and Atlantic Canada during the next few days.

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 21:07:54 +0000 RBC, Pan American Life team up to help small businesses

RBC Royal Bank has partnered with the Pan-American Life Insurance Group to supply 30 small businesses in TT with covid19 care packages. A release issued by the bank on Wednesday said each package contains personal protective equipment (PPE) products and signage to help business owners safeguard their staff and customers. The packages will be delivered in the next few weeks. Greer Quan, CEO-Caribbean at the Pan-American Life Insurance Group, said, “Small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. As many regions move into the stabilisation phase, PPE will be vital to their recovery.” She went on to say this initiative shows the "power of collaboration." RBC managing director Gretchen Camacho-Mohammed said, “With restrictions being lifted, we saw a need to help small business owners not only financially but also to assist them in preparation for their return to office and/or reopenings.” She thanked the Pan-American Life Insurance Group for working with the bank to “bring this initiative to life. “As corporate partners working together we are stronger in the positive impact we can make in society. We all need to work together to protect lives and livelihoods for all stakeholders as we make

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:24:08 -0500 Misinformation a great threat to health of region, says PAHO director

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr Carissa Etienne has issued an appeal to member states to “prioritise a transparent and proactive” communications approach for COVID-19. “The people of our region crave clear guidance....

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 20:07:54 +0000 Agriculturist: Use more state lands for food security

Agricultural consultant Riyadh Mohammed is questioning the allocation and use of state lands and the actual use of arable land for its intended purpose. Speaking with Newsday, Mohammed, the lead consultant at Tropical Agriculture Consultancy Services, said the distribution of state lands has raised many questions and has always been problematic and controversial. The administrative body for state land is headed by the Commissioner of State Lands in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, who is responsible for issuing licences, rights of way, leases and agreements, special permissions, eviction notices to squatters and advising on termination notices to tenants in breach of agreements. Mohammed had several questions, "How much of the agricultural state lands issued to tenants are being fully utilised, under full production capacity or abandoned, how is the evaluation of agricultural productivity measured and what are the repercussions of not being productive?” He said these concerns should be raised at a time when the world faces a pandemic and food security should be a priority, especially for a small island developing state. Mohammed pointed out that approximately 52 per cent of the entire acreage of TT was state land

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 20:40:54 +0000 Education Minister: Government sympathises with students

ONE of the major grouses of parents who protested outside the Red House on Wednesday was the perceived lack of compassion from CXC on their concerns over the system used to grade CAPE and CSEC exams written this year. Commenting on the parents' feelings, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said, while she could not speak to the compassion or lack thereof of CXC, she could assure protesters that the government “Understands how difficult the situation is.” She said on Monday that government decided to pay the reduced cost of reviews for the 2020 cohort. The cost to request a review to CXC was reduced by 50 per cent from US$30 to $15. She added, “However, as ministers of education met, we agreed that students from territories that could not afford to do this should also have the opportunity, hence the request that the council consider the recommendation to remove fees for reviews for 2020.” After claiming to be unfairly graded in their CSEC and CAPE exams, students across the region have been protesting against the council. TT saw its first protest on Monday as a group of 12 parents took to the streets with placards in hand. Barbados and Guyana have seen numerous protests since results were released

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 19:03:55 +0000 Judiciary: Software working, although judge not assigned cases

THE Judiciary says its case management system – which recently suffered a software glitch resulting in one judge being bumped off – is functioning as originally designed, and within the limits of redundancies normally associated with the type of software. It was responding to a complaint by Justice Frank Seepersad, who discovered he had been bumped off the system in August, and not assigned new cases since then. The Judiciary on Thursday admitted that on the odd occasion the automated system arbitrarily de-selects a judge. But it said the issue has been treated appropriately when it occurs and is discovered, “and in no way affects the random assignment of matters as they continued to be assigned to all other judges on the civil docket.” The Judiciary, it went on, "is committed to best practices in the delivery of justice. The institution aims to ensure that members of the public have continuing access to judicial officers who are dedicated to the just and expeditious disposition of all matters. “Equity and integrity remain among the core principles which inform and guide the institution’s decision making whilst maintaining at all times the independence of judicial officers and the Judiciary as a whole.” However, Ne

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 19:03:54 +0000 Activists: Not enough being done on domestic violence

There are renewed calls for the authorities to implement more strategies and enforce laws to protect victims of domestic violence. The plea came from a group of activists who held a virtual discussion on Wednesday. “Shades of Domestic Violence” was a collaborative initiative between the International Women's Resource Network (IWRN) and the US Embassy. Among the panellisst were deputy public relations affairs officer at the US Embassy Naureen Naila; journalist Bobie-Lee Dixon; US domestic violence advocate AnnDena Fredrieka McCleary; progranme co-ordinator at Cure Violence Transition Team Gregory Sloane-Seale; founder of Women of Substance in Tobago Onika Mars ;and IWRN’s president Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan. Isaac-Rattan said “Shades of Domestic Violence” sought to discuss and highlight the different types of abuse and triggers in men. She said, “Why 'shades'? Because there are that are lighter than others and then there are the darker ones. But at the end of it all, it is all violence, whether physical, verbal or otherwise. "Abuse and violence can be triggered by rejection, anger, sexual issues and obsessive behaviours.” Sloane-Seale said apart fromthe known forms of abuse there were m

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 19:35:01 +0000 Public warned they risk jail for commenting on active court cases online

Victims of active court cases – and, in some cases, defendants too – could face additional trauma if their identity is leaked by irresponsible social media users. The warning came from Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney, this morning who spoke to Observer about why police issued a statement yesterday urging the public to tread carefully […]

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 16:36:54 +0000 Ex-minister slams ministry’s CXC response

Former minister of education Tim Gopeesingh wrote a letter on Wednesday expressing his dissatisfaction at the current minister’s response to the marking of CSEC and CAPE exams. Gopeesingh said “critical and urgent action and resolution” were needed from the ministry, now headed by Dr by Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. He said the situation, which has escalated to regionwide protests, is causing “mental agony and anguish” to students. He said many feel the ministry is “passively ignoring” their pleas for help. “Indeed, the ministry’s statement on its meeting with CXC on the issue of reassessment of students’ marks and SBAs is woefully lacking, devoid of clarity and sorely needs detailed public information,” said Gopeesingh. “It demonstrates the unacceptable lack of willpower and serious professionalism, the mismanagement, incapability and incompetence by the Ministry of Education.” Gopeesingh asked why the ministry had not gathered data from principals, school supervisors and other relevant stakeholders. “How can the ministry address CXC without this required knowledge, in seeking to obtain the correct answers pertaining to reassessment and remarking of the students’ SBAs and scripts?” Gopeesingh said the

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:52:54 +0000 Cybercrime under-reported

THE TTPS does not have definitive data about the prevalence of ransomware and other debilitating cyberattacks in TT because local companies that fall victim often do not make reports to the police. But head of the Cyber and Social Media Unit Sgt Daniel Hernandez said there is evidence that incidents involving malicious software usage by cybercriminals is on the rise globally. There’s also an increase in relation to attacks on companies. “We can only focus on reports. If we don’t get reports then we can’t give definitive (information) on what is happening,” he told Newsday. On Wednesday, Newsday reported that some IT systems at Ansa McAl, the Caribbean’s biggest conglomerate, were held hostage by a ransomware attack by criminal cybergang REvil. In a statement that evening, Ansa McAl acknowledged a “security incident” within the group’s IT systems in Barbados and Trinidad, but the business was once again operational. Asked if there was any update, the company said on We

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 05:19:55 +0000 Robinson-Regis:I helped ‘exorcise’ OJT ‘ghosts’

PLANNING Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said she helped “exorcise” some “ghosts” from the On The Job Training Programme (OJT). On Tuesday as the Standing Finance Committee examined the allocation for the Labour Ministry, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh asked if there were any ghosts (people whose name was on the list and were receiving stipends but did not attend training) in the OJT. Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie said he was not aware of any issues surrounding any ghosts. Robinson-Regis contended that all the ghosts were there from 2010-2015 (when the People’s Partnership administration was in office). “How do you get rid of ghosts? You smoke them out.” Indarsingh said: “I didn’t know you were good at exorcisms.” Robinson-Regis replied: “I was one of the exorcists.” Mc Clashie also spoke about new labour legislation including to eliminate child labour, employment standards and for trade disputes, and $200,000 to set up a 24/7 sexual harassment hotline and to produce promotional materials for sensitisation. The post Robinson-Regis:I helped ‘exorcise’ OJT ‘ghosts’ appeared first on

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Thu, 22, Oct, 2020 11:40:01 GMT PwC donates laptops to 3 KC students

PwC Jamaica yesterday donated laptop computers to three Kingston College students. One of the three, Noeem McKenzie (second left), is seen here checking out the device after the presentation was made by Leighton McKnight (second right), PwC's territory leader. Also examining the specifications of the computers are KC Principal Dave Myrie (right) and Hamlin Pagon, KC old boy and member of the David “Wagga” Hunt Scholarship Foundation.(Photo: Karl McLarty)

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Thu, 22 Oct 2020 05:29:56 +0000 Used-car dealers want further tax extension

THE grace period on taxes granted by Finance Minister Colm Imbert for new and foreign-used car dealers is no Christmas gift ,says president of Trinidad and Tobago Automotive Dealers Association (TTADA) Visham Babwah Babwah is seeking a further tax extension for new and foreign-used car dealers until January 31, 2021. Imbert granted dealers  until December 31, further to his October 5 budget announcement that tax concessions will be removed on foreign-used vehicles by October 20. He announced that Cabinet has agreed that the new taxes would take effect on January 1. Babwah told the Newsday on Tuesday, “This is not an extension. This is not a Christmas gift. “I want the population to know when the tax was exempted and the law was assented to by the President in 2016, the date of expiration of this tax was December 31, 2020. The law stated that. "We never operated outside of the law, so the minister did not give us any special consideration or special favour when he moved the date back to October 20 and then moved it forward to December 31. “In my view that was really a distraction for dealers, and it will cost the dealers a lot of money.” He explained the removal of tax concessions and now the extension of th

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