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GEORGETOWN—The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has “strongly” objected to a move by the European Union to include a number of Caribbean countries on a list of global countries considered to be tax havens.
CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin la Rocque said the decision by Europe had ‘been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria” and urged France to use its influence to reverse the “arbitrary and punitive actions” against the regional countries.
Earlier this month, EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels named St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago among a list of 17 countries considered to be global tax havens. They said the new list had been drawn up after 10 months of investigations by EU officials.
The ministers said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes. Potential sanctions that could be enforced on members of the list are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.
The EU said that as a first step, a letter will be sent to all jurisdictions on the new list, explaining the decision and what they can do to be de-listed.
But as he accepted the credentials of Antoine Joly, the new French Ambassador to CARICOM, LaRocque said that regional countries had been blacklisted even though they have not been so labelled by the relevant regulatory authorities such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.
“This decision by the EU has been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria, that go beyond the generally accepted international tax transparency and accountability standards which our countries have been diligently meeting over the past several years,” he said.
“CARICOM strongly objects to this listing of our member states and calls on the EU to remove our member states from this pernicious list,” he said, noting that the 15-member grouping stood ready to discuss the matter with the European Council.
A major consequence of “blacklisting” was the “de-risking” strategies that included the withdrawal of correspondent banking services by certain international banks, the CARICOM Secretary-General told the French envoy.
He said that the impact has had a “detrimental impact on the trade and financial operations” of the region’s economies. (CMC)
In the world of investing, there’s so much information to process and interpret that anybody can easily drown in it.
The challenge investors face lies in their ability to cut through the opaque and distorting bits and pieces of information, and get to the data that is truly relevant towards supporting an investment thesis.
Sometimes, there’s nothing relevant at all - only a jumble of datapoints that create talk and chatter.
Investors can easily dilute their efforts by chasing any number of seemingly plausible but really bad ideas, or becoming mired in meaningless detail.
Further, and in spite of their best efforts, they can also misinterpret signals and drift deeper into the information jungle.
So how do investors go about sensibly sorting through troves of information in the face of both emotional and psychological factors that can impede progress?
In essence, how do investors go about controlling the noise?
Fortunately, there are some things investors can do to improve their odds of success.
To start with, defining investing as a study of choice rather than chance helps.
When investors recognise the value of putting choice at the center, they can oftentimes control the inclination to gamble and take unnecessary chances in the hope that luck might shine their way.
As an aside, and perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes of investing, is that good choices do not always produce good results.
This is because in the short-run, good analysis can be overwhelmed by the strongest emotions pervasive in markets at any particular moment in time.
Thoughtful analysis however, improves the odds of success over time - the fundamental principle around which investing hinges.
Unprepared investors are highly vulnerable to being cast about like ragdolls when prices swing unpredictably, causing them to enter and exit markets at precisely the wrong time.
The beauty about investing really, is that it is every much an analytical pursuit as it is an emotional one.
Thus, controlling the noise at its core means stabilizing the mind so as to grasp the true essence of things and thus, separate opportunites from illusions.
British wine critic, writer and auctioneer John Michael Broadbent who is a Master of Wine (MW) once said, “Drinking good wine, with good food, in good company, is one of life’s most civilised pleasures.
Claiming to have “stumbled” upon her passion in the culinary field 20 years ago as she interned at a summer job, Lisa Johnstone described the beginning of her love affair with good food as “quite accidental.”
Seated at the intimate and cosy restaurant she recently opened at Maraval Plaza, the mother of an 11-year-old son said Taste Vinoteca represented the culmination of a dream she is hoping to expand.
The Maraval resident laughingly admitted, “I stumbled into this career.”
Attending to her customers personally as she seated them, in the middle of passing out menus and delivering recommendations, Johnstone related, “It was a summer job, never thinking at all I was going to fall in love with it and I did.”
Uncertain of what exactly she wanted to do at the time, Johnstone said although she was certain that it would centre around business, she opted to spend three years as an Air-Hostess with BWIA as it allowed her the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures and off course, learn about different foods and wines.
Chucking it in to study at the California Culinary Academy, San Francisco where she obtained a Degree in Hospitality Restaurant Management, Johnstone said, “I knew I wanted to return to the Caribbean and was fortunate to get a job in Barbados at a hotel.”
Crediting this particular experience as an eye-opener as the hotel was in its final year of operation, Johnstone’s eyes narrowed as she recalled, “I walked into the lion’s den but learnt to tread water before deciding to move back to Trinidad.”
Accepting a position as the Opening Manager, Prime Restaurant, Johnstone claimed, “It was one of the best experiences I ever had.”
Gesturing at the family-type atmosphere she has created at Taste Vinoteca, Johnstone simplified her description of it as she declared, “It is a wine bar with food.”
Specialising in old world wines and shared plates, Johnstone acknowledged the gamble she had taken to establish Taste Vinoteca, especially in the current economic climate.
Listing some of T&T’s higher-end restaurants under her belt as the Opening Manager, Johnstone said each opportunity had only reinforced her love of teaching others the skill and art of preparing and serving food.
She said, “It was clear to me that I needed to do something on my own.”
Spreading her wings a bit further, Johnstone embarked on consulting for the hospitality and tourism sector for a period of six years as she trained persons in Miami, Guyana, Antigua and Barbados before coming back to T&T.
Fortunate for the opportunity to begin slowly setting up Taste Vinoteca, Johnstone confirmed, “Urban Oasis Cafe was looking for someone to do something in their space at dinner-time at One Woodbrook Place as they had been open for three years but were under-utilised at night.”
“So I thought it was awesome idea to develop my Taste brand where I didn’t have massive overheads, so we became a pop-up restaurant in that space.”
Johnstone said, “It worked beautifully as people began identifying what the Taste brand was.”
Based on this success, Johnstone said she began “looking around” for the ideal location which would allow her to expand her menu to include lunch and dinner.
Admitting the process to get the current location ready had been a tedious one, Johnstone explained that it had taken four months to develop the space into what she envisioned.
So far, she says the public has been loving the space.
She revealed, “Maraval is once again becoming a restaurant hub and with the traffic being horrendous, it is a nice little space that allows persons to step away from that a bit and it’s like a pit stop.”
Asked about her long-term plans, Johnstone replied, “Within the next five years, I will be concentrating on building it into the brand I want it to be, something that is very cosy and super personalised.”
“If things are as successful as we hope, another branch could happen.”
However, she immediately cautioned, “I don’t want to be in a situation where I have stretched myself too thin because I like to be hands-on.”
“I want my guests to enjoy me as well, just as much as my team does.”
Pointing to the commercial development continuing to take place in the south-land, Johnstone said that may be next on her agenda “in a couple of years.”
Performing a juggling act as she balances motherhood with work, Johnstone said, “It’s not the easiest thing but the family support that I have is unbelievable.”
“I couldn’t follow my dream without the family support I have.”
Johnstone said she was striving to maintain a certain level of quality and excellence in her food and wine offerings.
Also wanting to support the local economy, she said she had employed contractors from across the country to help make her dream a reality.
Johnstone also sought to disabuse persons who thought it was all about “bussing your pocket.”
She assured, “It’s very affordable for everyone. This is about putting together menus that are appealing and we cater for someone wanting to do lunch which can start from $75 per person, up to $150 per person.”
“There is also a shared plate concept so persons can mix it up a bit if they want.”
Johnstone said every difficult step during her professional career had served to develop her character and determination to succeed and see her business become the premier fine-dining establishment in the Maraval community.
The levels of crime in T&T got worse in 2017 and so did the daredevil antics of criminals.
Some of these are reminiscent of the “Wild West” in the United States in the 1800s.
In September, burglars using a blow torch, cut a hole on the eastern side of the Montrose branch of First Citizens bank, then cut open a vault and escaped with over $3.5 million.
Even the clergy has not been spared, as in June, Father Clive Harvey, a priest, was robbed.
Two weeks ago, there was the $5 million dollar robbery in Piarco, when an Amalgamated truck was robbed.
While cases like these, make exciting subject matter for books and movies, in the real world, businesses in T&T in 2017 have been hard hit by incidences of crime.
Several members of the business community shared how this growing anarchy has impacted on the increased cost of doing business.
Business and security
Derek Chin, owner of Telecom Security Services told Sunday Business that he has not seen a significant increase in his security business despite the increase in crime in 2017.
“To say that there has been an overwhelming raise of demand for additional security, I have not really seen a lot. But what we do have, we have maintained. There has been some degree of growth in people wanting additional security, but most are from already existing customers and not necessarily new customers.”
He said it would be logical to think that there would be an increase in the need for security services in light of the huge surge in crime, but the problem he said is that many businesses simply do not have the extra money for additional security services.
“They have to weigh the cost of security against the fact that business has slowed down in most cases. A lot of retail people are suffering because things are down because of the economy and the cut backs of jobs and factors like that. So while there is the need for more security services it is countered by the fact that people can only afford so much.”
He said an unarmed security officer may cost a business place about $20 to $25 per hour while an armed security officer may cost around $50 per hour.
“What I’ve seen in the cash-in-transit business is an increase in that area. But in terms of the average, everyone is trying to cut corners. Not many businesses can hire fire arms officers.”
He attributes the lacklustre performance of the security sector to the economic slump.
“I am sure you are hearing business people saying the season has not started as yet. People are just waiting until the last week to buy what they have to buy. Even some people like me if you are going to give a bonus, you are going to a food voucher, you are not going to give cash anymore because we just cannot afford it.”
Ramchand Rajbal Maraj, President, Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce told Sunday Business that crime has taken a toll on the business community not only in his area, but throughout the country.
Maraj is the owner of a contractor company in the Couva/Point Lisas area.
“The crime situation has certainly affected sales. People are scared to come out to shop and even to window shop, people are scared in their movement. It has affected Christmas shopping.”
He said it has been “noticeable” that businesses have been hiring more guards, installing cameras and other security details to protect their businesses.
Of course, he added that all this costs more money.
“We at our Chamber, we are also contemplating having CCTV cameras for security purposes.”
He also called for more joint army/police patrols to raise confidence levels in the country.
“There is shortage of human resources in the police service. So all things being equal, it is a downward trend with the confidence and the lack of resources. I have called for 24 hour surveillance in the town centre of Couva. This is to bring some level of comfort and security for the businesses and citizens.”
Supermarkets cry out
Dr Yunus Ibrahim, President of the Supermarkets’ Association of T&T told Sunday Business that crime has seriously impacted on supermarkets’ operational costs.
“It continues to be one of the areas that we wish we did not have to invest in because we spend more on crime prevention than we make in profits. You must have CCTV footage, guards and computing systems.”
He estimated that it costs supermarkets almost 16 cents out of each dollar for security costs and theft.
“For security costs, it is 10 cents on the dollar for the guard and infrastructure and another 4 to 6 cents on the dollar for the theft. Remember that it is a high volume, low margin environment.”
He lamented that people from all age groups and social classes steal in supermarkets.
“Shoplifting is a daily and hourly occurrence. The less social services that are available for relief makes it harder.”
Balliram Maharaj, a former President of the Supermarkets’ Association and owner of Arima Discount Mart told Sunday Business that protection from crime has incurred more costs on supermarkets.
“One of the biggest expenses caused by crime involves things like security guards, alarms, burglar proof, cameras and so on. These are all used by supermarkets.”
He said he could not give an exact cost but did say that these additional expenses are “substantial” for supermarkets.
He added that crime’s impact on supermarkets is not new and has been this way for the last few years.
“For the last couple years it has been increasingly hurting supermarkets.”
He said there needs to be a national discussion on crime and how it is negatively affecting business.
“It is one of the topics that has to involve everyone from school children to adults to come up with ideas.”
This Christmas holiday for former national Under-20 midfielder Xavier Rajpaul will be like none other. It will be one spent without the most inspirational figure in his life, his father Darryl Rajpaul, a PNM councillor for Belmont East, who lost his life after a suffering a heart attack during a friendly match of football last month.
Rajpaul is holding onto aspirations of becoming a professional footballer and going onto play for this country’s senior team. But recently those ambitions almost turned to something of the past and it took a few timely pieces of advice to get Xavier back in line.
“I considered giving up football because it was too painful but one thing I frequently heard from family and friends is that I should continue working hard and fighting for my dream, which is to play football professionally,” said Rajpaul, a former St Anthony’s College player.
“But the one call that made me feel like playing again was when my friend Alvin Jones contacted me and we had a really great conversation about everything and the part that really stood out to me was about my dad’s legacy and the work he put in place to get me where I am at today.
“Alvin expressed that he has never experienced this feeling but his advice and the conversation just motivated me to get back to practice and work hard to become a professional player and to use this as a drive to get where I want to be and to live for him.”
Rajpaul and Jones were team-mates on the T&T U-20 team in 2012.
“My most inspirational figure is my dad, always has and will always be. He coached me throughout my life and would always recognise and tell me what I need to do better to grow as a player. I would not be the player I am today if it weren’t for his guidance,” Rajpaul said.
“From dad’s life I have taken away how humble he was as a person and how much he was willing to help someone else without expecting something in return. It has not been easy coping since his passing but having good friends and family around has been helpful in keeping my spirits up.”
The 23-year-old has completed his US College tenure which last four seasons with College of Charleston and Howard University. His 40-yard goal in 2015 earned the number two pick on ESPN’s Sportscenter’s top ten plays.
Though being plagued by injury in his fourth and final year, he still intends to return to the game and will be considering training with a local Pro League team next year before considering long-term options. He also had stints with the DC United U-23 team while based in the United States.
“My plan right now is to focus on reforming myself first by getting back into shape and in a good head space before I focus on the game again. I completed my final college last week so I have decided to move back home for the time being to stay close with the family. When Pro League teams start pre-season, I will try to train with a team if I don’t get anything abroad by that time,” Rajpaul said.
Shaun Fuentes served as an appointed FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals and is also a CONCACAF Champions League and tournament’s press officer.
Currently under the astute coaching of former USA Olympian Erin Hartwell, a pool of young and talented T&T sprint cyclists are involved in an intense training program which could pay huge dividends in January.
Christmas as we know it is hardly in the minds of Njisane Phillip, Kwesi Browne, Keron Bramble and Nicholas Paul. There will be minimal festivities for the group, with almost no time to enjoy the merriment which this season brings.
The 2017-2018 UCI Track Cycling World Cup finale in Minsk, Belarus from January 19 to 21 will mark the debut of a T&T Sprint Team on such an elevated stage.
“Its just a part of the sacrifice. We are just training hard throughout the season. We also have the Commonwealth Games in April so we’re missing out the Carnival and Christmas spirit but its also part of chasing that pride and glory. We’re working hard day in, day out and we’re just building.” said Phillip.
It is no new sacrifice for T&T’s two-time Olympian. In fact the January leg of the World Cup can be considered a late start to his season by normal standards.
He told Guardian Media Sports, “I’m not really big on Christmas because I’m always away. Last year I was in Colombia and it was really cool to see how they celebrate but I’m not really big on it.”
He added, “2020 is definitely the goal now, the Olympic points start next year and we definitely want to be on top of the leader board to qualify a team sprint for that so that we can have more athletes representing Trinidad in the cycling discipline. That’s our main goal.”
Less than a month after the World Cup event in Belarus, Phillip is expected to achieve another milestone by welcoming his first baby into the world.
“My baby is due in February so this Christmas I would be seeing about some appointments and stuff. I’m really excited about it. Super excited. I don’t know what sex it is yet, I will wait until the day but I just praying for a healthy baby.”
Even as that exciting prospect looms, Phillip and his team are not distracted from the task at hand. They cannot afford to be.
After all, with a new world class facility now available at their disposal, a top level technical director and a young, exciting breed of riders coming through, the expectations are mounting.
Double Olympic medallist, Keshorn Walcott, warmly opened the doors of his Valsayn residence, to children from the St. Dominic’s Children’s Home Arima and Belmont as he, alongside long-time partner bmobile, hosted a special Christmas Treat on Saturday December 9.
The 24-year-old field athlete brought early Christmas cheer to the youngsters, ages 5-12, by providing them with a day of fun and games in his spacious backyard. This delighted bunch, bumped around in Bouncy Castles, played basketball and capitalized on their opportunity to take photos with the 2012 London Olympic javelin champion.
Walcott revealed that he was grateful to be in T&T this year for the holidays and opted to spread some Christmas joy.
“We wanted these children to feel love and appreciation, so I decided to open up my home to them. Connecting with them has been a learning experience for both me and the kids. They always have the weirdest questions. I feel very pleased to partner with bmobile once more and treat the kids of St Dominic’s Home,” he stated.
Walcotts said that one of Walcott his personal highlights was interacting with a child who had not yet mastered the art of eating with a knife and fork.
Walcott added with a smile, “Whenever somebody teaches me something, I always feel the need to teach somebody else. I remember a few years ago I was the same. And as big as I am, I was taught, so I just decided to help him out.”
TSTT’s Vice President of Marketing, Camille Campbell, expressed pleasure to have jointly hosted the St. Dominic’s Children’s Home Christmas Treat with such an esteemed national icon.
“Giving back to our citizens is a key element in our day-to-day operations at bmobile. We have assisted multiple Homes through our Book Buddies (textbook and school supplies distribution) Programme earlier this year, and we saw this opportunity to bring smiles to the young ones at St Dominic’s, as an avenue to spread the Christmas spirit. We have always endorsed Keshorn and working with such a role model has always been an uplifting experience, especially when children are involved,” Campbell declared.
Juvenile Home Supervisors at St. Dominic’s – Joanne Hernandez and Martha Bourne – were also grateful.
Hernandez noted, “The kids are in a festive mood because Keshorn has welcomed them openly. Events like these deliver the peace, joy and happiness that are affiliated with this time of year. They’re having fun, and kudos to the sponsors and our Olympic champion.”
Dwayne Bravo says it is unlikely he will play for West Indies again, and sees his future solely in the various short-format leagues around the world.
After tearing his hamstring in Australia’s Big Bash League in December 2016, the Trinidadian allrounder endured a lengthy absence from all cricket. Bravo has not played for West Indies since the T20 series against Pakistan in the preceding September, and believes his chances of a recall into the team are slim.
“I am looking at these tournaments as a chance to continue playing cricket,” Bravo said. “As long as I can play cricket, I am happy. As far as internationals are concerned, I have been dropped from the West Indies team.
“I was dropped while I was fit. I don’t think now, at 34, it would make any sense coming back. I just need to see what is left for me, for my fans to see Dwayne Bravo playing cricket. That is my priority.”
Bravo has not played Test cricket for West Indies in seven years, and had not featured in an ODI since 2014. He says his absence from the game at the start of this year hurt, but he was happy to return to the T20 circuit.
Currently in Sharjah for the T10 League, Bravo is part of the Maratha Arabians as a late recruit, following Kumar Sangakkara’s withdrawal from the tournament. Earlier this year, injury forced Bravo to miss the 2017 IPL, but he has gone on to play in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
“I didn’t play for nine months [seven months],” Bravo said. “That is a lot. I missed the game and I have to be careful now. Playing BPL, we made it to the semi-finals. Unfortunately we didn’t make it all the way through, but I am happy to be playing again.”
Bravo has played more T20 matches (364) than anyone other than his former West Indies team-mate Kieron Pollard (399). Perhaps predictably, Bravo has also adapted quickly to the even shorter 10-over format.
Bravo, who was one of the victims in Shahid Afridi’s hat-trick on the opening night of the competition, found his range with the ball on day two in Sharjah. He took 2 for 12 off his two overs, as Maratha Arabians secured their first win in the competition against Team Sri Lankan Cricket.
WHANGAREI, New Zealand—The Hope brothers, Kyle and Shai, gathered half-centuries but were unable to prevent West Indies from going down by six wickets to an unsung New Zealand XI in their 50-overs tour match yesterday.
In their only warm-up match before the limited overs series starting next week, West Indies rattled up a competitive 288 all out off 48.4 overs, with Kyle top-scoring with 94 his younger brother Shai chipping in with 69.
All-rounder Rovman Powell supported with 31 while left-hander Shimron Hetmyer got 28.
Twenty-year-old off-spinner Aniket Parikh was the best bowler with four for 47.
Test opener Jeet Raval, leading the side, then flayed the Windies bowling for a superb 169 as the hosts got home with nine balls remaining.
The left-hander, who looked in good touch in the recent two-Test series, hammered 17 fours and a six in a 150-ball knock while Bharat Popli struck 62.
Raval gave his side a flying starting, posting 77 with 21-year-old Jack Boyle (22) for the first wicket before adding a further 149 for the third wicket with Popli, in a partnership which killed off the Windies chances.
Popli, a 27-year-old right-hander, struck five fours off 61 balls.
Earlier, the Hope brothers had taken centre stage in a 138-run, second wicket stand after Evin Lewis had fallen in the eighth over for 17, following a 42-run stand for the first wicket with Kyle.
The right-handed Kyle Hope faced 101 balls and struck nine fours before retiring in the 33rd over while Shai stroked eight fours and a six in a typically classy 58-ball innings.
The 20-year-old Hetmyer showed glimpses of his attacking ability, smashing three fours and a six in a 17-ball cameo, while putting on 36 for the third wicket with Kyle.
Powell hit two fours in a 43-ball knock late on to keep the innings going but the Windies lost their last five wickets for just 34 runs.
The first One-Day International of the three-match series bowls off at Cobham Oval next Wednesday.
WEST INDIES VS NEW ZEALAND XI
WEST INDIES INNINGS
K Hope ret. out 94
E Lewis c wkp Morrison b Rae 17
+S Hope c Sandhu b Parikh 69
S Hetmyer c McKenzie b Raval 28
J Mohammed c wkp Morrison b Parikh 10
J Holder c wkp Morrison b Craig 1
R Powell c Raval b Sandhu 31
A Nurse b Parikh 1
N Miller c Colson b Parikh 1
K Williams run out 12
S Cottrell not out 7
Extras (lb3, w14) 17
TOTAL (ALL OUT, 48.4 OVERS) 288
DID NOT BAT: R Beaton.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-42, 2-180, 3-216, 4-221, 5-227, 6-254, 7-256, 8-261, 9-278, 10-288.
BOWLING: Sandhu 6-0-53-1, Rae 8.4-0-56-1, Craig 10-0-50-1, McKenzie 10-0-57-0, Parikh 10-0-47-4, Raval 4-0-22-1.
NEW ZEALAND XI INNINGS
(TARGET: 289 FROM 50 OVERS)
J Raval b Holder 169
J Boyle c wkp S Hope b Williams 22
H Cooper c wkp S Hope b Miller 7
Bharat Popli c Hetmyer b Cottrell 62
F Colson not out 11
S Solia not out 4
Extras (lb2, w12) 14
TOTAL (4 WKTS, 48.3 OVERS) 289
DID NOT BAT: M Craig, A Parikh, +A Morrison, A McKenzie, R Sandhu, M Rae
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-77, 2-103, 3-252, 4-281.
BOWLING: Cottrell 10-0-63-1, Beaton 1.1-0-2-0, Holder 7.5-0-60-1, Williams 9.3-0-60-1, Miller 10-0-54-1, Nurse 10-1-59-0.
Result: New Zealand XI won by six wickets.
The T&T Red Force bowlers fought well, after a brilliant century from skipper Denesh Ramdin, prevented the follow-on against the Barbados Pride, but at the end of the third day’s play of the CWI, Digicel PCL clash at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, the home team were up against it.
Barbados batting a second time with a first innings lead of 102 runs, closed the day on 188 for seven, for an overall lead of 290 going into the final day today. Earlier, Ramdin scored his 15th First Class hundred to ensure that T&T got past the 167 run follow on mark, eventually dismissed for 213.
Following that, the local bowlers then went to battle and did well but having the comfort of a first innings lead of 102, the Barbadians are still out front.
Leg-spinner Bryan Charles was the man out front for the Red Force grabbing three wickets to add to the four he got in the first innings, keeping the Red Force interest in the match alive. Barbados could have found themselves in more problems but for a mature unbeaten 38 from former West Indies U-19 all rounder Shamarh Springer.
Pride skipper Shamarh Brooks controlled the early wobble and counted 37 before he was bowled by fellow Barbadian Roshon Primus.
Earlier, T&T Red Force resumed in the overnight position of 146 for eight, adding a further 67 runs for the last two wickets. Rain prevented play for the first 45 minutes and when they finally got going, Ramdin continued to dominate. Charles, Ramdin’s overnight partner, was intent on staying with him and together they pushed the score along. Charles did not get off the mark until 54 minutes into the day’s play but more importantly he stayed with Ramdin who displayed great skills in manoeuvring the ball and controlled proceedings to a great extent.
The experienced captain was able to take T&T past the follow-on mark of 167 and then pushed on to record his third century of the season. At lunch the score was 208 for eight, with T&T scoring 62 runs from 22.1 overs.
On the resumption however, pacer Justin Greaves ended the innings with two lovely deliveries, sending back Charles for one from 42 deliveries and the injured Rishi Jaipaul without scoring. Ramdin remained unbeaten on 132 off 224 balls with 13 fours.
When play resumes today, Barbados Pride will have to decide whether a target of 291 is sufficient on a wearing pitch, or whether, they need to continue batting.
Red Force vs Pride
Pride 1st inns 316 all out
Red Force 1st inns
A Jangoo lbw Warrican 14
J Solozano c Alleyne b Warrican 40
I Rajah c & b Warrican 0
E Nicholson c Carter b Warrican 0
D Ramdin not out 132
A Cooper c & b Warrican 1
I Khan b Warrican 10
R Primus c Walsh b Williams 3
D St. Clair lbw Walsh 1
B Charles lbw Greaves 1
R Jaipaul b Greaves 0
Total all out 213
Fall of wkts: 37, 37, 39, 96, 98, 125, 134, 146, 213, 213.
Bowling: J Greaves 12.4-5-26-2, S Springer 2-0-3-0, K Williams 25-9-38-1, J Warrican 39-15-71-6, K Stoute 7-3-18-0, H Walsh 19-4-52-1.
Barbados Pride 2nd inns
A Alleyne b Khan 27
S Moseley lbw St Clair 3
S Brooks b Primus 37
J Carter lbw Charles 21
K Stoute b Charles 1
K Williams c Primus b Charles 26
J Greaves c Rajah b Khan 3
S Springer not out 38
M Rampersaud not out 8
Total for 7 wkts 188
Fall of wkts: 7, 60, 101, 102, 105, 122, 155.
Bowling: D St Clair 13-2-29-1, B Charles 23.1-8-56-2, I Khan 22-4-70-3, R Primus 4-1-13-1.
A major challenge facing the legal profession is to determine what is its duty when there are published allegations made against a judge which have the effect of damaging the reputation of the Judiciary.
The legal profession has a duty to defend a judge if the legal profession knows that the allegations which are published against that judge are untrue. The legal profession owes the judge and the Judiciary that duty because if the judge and the Judiciary is not defended by the legal profession, members of the public would lose confidence not only in the judge, but also in the Judiciary and the integrity of the rule of law.
It follows that a judge who is the subject of published allegations which have the effect of damaging the reputation of the Judiciary owes a duty to the public and to the legal profession to answer the allegations by giving satisfactory explanations in response to the publications. The judge has the option of first giving his explanations to the Law Association so that the Law Association can mobilise the legal profession to give support to the judge and to the Judiciary.
If the judge, however, does not give a public answer to published allegations which have the effect of damaging the reputation of the Judiciary and he does not provide a satisfactory explanation in response to the published allegations against him, the legal profession and the public would be entitled to draw adverse inferences against the judge in respect of the contents of the published allegations. This situation should not be allowed to happen.
Where the judge does not satisfactorily answer the published allegations made against him and he does not co-operate with the Law Association or the legal profession in providing satisfactory explanations tothe published allegations made against him, the legal profession has a duty to the public and to the legal profession to take action to ensure that those published allegations against the judge are investigated in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of T&T.
This must be done in order for the public perceptions against the judge and the Judiciary to be appeased. It is necessary for this course of action to be taken by the legal profession otherwise the public would not only lose confidence in the judge but would also lose confidence in the Judiciary and the legal profession as a whole. The legal profession has a duty to vindicate the rule of law because no one is above the law.
Judges, like lawyers, must recognise that they owe an obligation to their colleagues to at all times maintain the dignity and honour of the profession, and they must always act in accordance with the law and the recognised standards of conduct and ethics of the profession.
In a lecture delivered by Lord Hodge, a judge of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on November 7, 2016, on the topic, Upholding the Rule of Law: How Judges Preserve Judicial Independence in the United Kingdom, the Learned Law Lord makes the following points:
a) A judge must avoid lobbying public officials for their own interest or the interest of people connected with the judge.
b) An important pillar of judicial independence and the rule of law is the moral authority of the Judiciary which requires members of the Judiciary to live up to their oath and ethical standards both in their work and in their private lives.
In the United Kingdom, judges enjoy considerable moral authority; that moral authority, however, has to be earned by them every day.
As part of the duty of the Judiciary to have public support and confidence, the Judiciary has a duty to correct misunderstandings of matters published in the public, because the rule of law is based ultimately on public confidence in the Judiciary. The legal profession is therefore faced with an important challenge. One thing is certain—if the legal profession remains silent in the face of actions and/or conduct which damage the reputation of the Judiciary and compromise the independence and integrity of the Judiciary, the legal profession would be failing in its duty, both to the legal profession and to the public.
Attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj delivered the feature address at the Law Association’s annual dinner and dance at the Hilton on December 1.
MIT was incorporated in 1861. Its motto is—Mens et Manus (mind and hand). The seal displays a craftsman at the anvil and a scholar with a book. The mission is to make cutting edge ideas useful to industry. Today, angel-backed start-ups touting innovative materials and patented designs resemble technology firms in Silicon Valley. Headhunters scouring for fresh talent and ideas inside local universities describe companies like Away, a luggage firm featured in Vogue, Tommy John, a boxer brief outfit, and Native, a deodorant manufacturer, as disruptive and revolutionary. Direct to customer (D2C) companies like these along with Casper, a mattress maker, and Warby Parker, a glasses designer, have attracted over US $3bn in venture capital. But it’s not just the upstarts—Bugatti compares the master-craftsmanship of its Chiron to haute couture. Hidden in the Vosges Mountains, the €2.4m Chiron brings the luxury and creative industries into contact with pioneering research from outstanding French engineering schools. France has become a venture capital attractor for start-ups since 2014. Facebook has its only European artificial intelligence lab in Paris because of schools like École 42. In a former railway depot, Xavier Niel, the “enfant terrible” of French telecoms, has invested €250m in Paris’ fast-growing 13th arrondissement, to create Station F, a 34,000 sq m campus for 1,000 technology companies from around the world. The ‘new alchemy’ in France has caused upstarts like Hugo Mercier, a 25-year-old engineer graduate, to launch Dreem, a neurotechnology sleep company and Frédréric Mazzella to start the ride sharing company—BlaBlaCar that is now valued €1.4 b. Even Unilever and Mars have joined the D2C bandwagon. This trend could cut grocery bills by 30 per cent. Luxury brands have also decided to block retailers from selling their products on Amazon and eBay. Coty, a US brand, argued that German retailer Parfümerie Akzente sold its goods on sites against Coty’s wishes. The European Court of Justice ruled that online marketplaces detracted from the image of luxury brands and that luxury brands have no contractual relationship with online marketplaces, which in turn are not required to comply with brands’ quality criteria. Such criteria are imposed on all authorised distributors, under the terms of their selective distribution agreements. Online marketplaces are now required to have direct contractual relationships with luxury brands. Luxury shops like Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Liberty—and luxury brands that have D2C sales points would see a boost in revenue as customers would need to revert to these as authorised distributors. On the other end of the consumption continuum, Amazon is clearly an unstoppable mega ‘freight train’ heading for any business. The Bezos mantra—“Your margin is my opportunity” allows Amazon to introduce private-label products from start-ups willing to repackage and reprice bespoke merchandise. On November 11, 2016, Alibaba rang up sales of $18 b; the most ever spent in one day on Earth. In 2016, e-commerce sales in China hit $366 b—almost as much as England and the US combined. As you walk pass a clothing store in China, you may receive a personalised coupon on your phone from Alipay as they reach into traditional retail. Bezos has started a $5 b Amazon investment in India. Jack Ma of Alibaba is following Bezos with a larger capital outlay. The two giants seem set for a clash to reconquer India that hearkens back to the 1600 East India Company of Elizabeth I that culminated in deindustrialisation, taxation, extraction and a landless peasantry. In education settings, a basic tenet is to move from the known to the unknown. Sebastien Szczepaniak of Nestlé is reversing this by matching Amazon’s data with Nestlé’s to target individuals rather than broad bands of consumers. He has moved from marketing to the unknown to marketing to the known. It is here that CAPE entrepreneurship and ICT converge and where subject silos dissolve in Finland allowing the text to rest on the anvil. The flat world is future-proofing its workforce with the next wave of thinkers, upstarts, versatilists and entrepreneurs. What futures are we educating for in the West Indies?
Dr Fazal Ali
Questioning of the political and economic systems of the major civilisations of the world is being done for relevance, fairness, the ability to deliver on human developmental needs, the lack of capacity to deliver on the elusive world peace and the inability to support and enhance democratic structures; corruption being a major by-product of the institutional dysfunction.
This desire for political and economic renewal, even transformation, is everywhere, crossing ideological bases on the right, left, peculiar versions of nationalism and dictatorships.
The 240-year-old political arrangements of the American civilisation forged by the conservative Republican and the liberal Democrats are fraying. The electoral system is proving to have serious structural deficiencies inclusive of not being able to reflect the majority will, having been captured by big capital. Increasing social and economic inequity has emerged as a major casualty of the system.
“Trumpism” with its ideology centred on self-aggrandisement, self-interest, the interests of the billionaire club and palpable dishonesty is causing serious conflict within the Republican Party, the Government and consternation around the world.
Donald Trump did not fall from the sky, he received a populist vote because sections of white cultural America felt they were losing ground to the liberalism of the Democratic party, more so Barack Obama (of mixed race) had spent eight years in the White House; those who voted Trump were eager to recapture their America.
Virulent street protests by the liberal left and a collection of women’s organisations were countered by the far right, inclusive of a reinvigorated Nazis and Klu Klux Klan movement buoyed by support from the White House; the conflict for power rages.
The Democrats with a historically liberal base are struggling to reassert an ideological and programmatic reordering to survive Trump.
However, the President has lost little time in having Congress institute huge tax breaks for the wealthy and their corporations and he has begun to release heritage physical resources for exploitation by the wealthy ten per cent; the environmental damage will result in even greater economic and social inequity and have international political repercussions. Much more hangs on the Mueller investigations.
The United Kingdom, which initiated the Industrial Revolution and spread its political, economic and cultural footprint across the world through colonisation has found out through the Brexit vote, that large elements of the native economic, cultural and political underclass feel disenfranchised by globalisation and seriously threatened at home by the effects of a multi-lateral political system expressed through the European Union.
Similar fears are arising in Europe as Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union have admitted to being surprised by the significant movement away from her party by groups of lower income voters who felt disenfranchised in the midst of great prosperity.
Merkel and the CDU are finding it very difficult to stitch together a coalition with the Greens on the left and the pro-business Democrats on the right. Another election seems imminent and with it could hang the fate of the European Union; a pro-EU government in Berlin is vital for the survival of the EU.
Sixty-five per cent of the voters in France at the May 2017 presidential election turned back the attempt by the far right Marine Le Pen and her National Front to follow Trump and the populous Brexit vote. In the revolutionary spirit of the French Republic, the electorate voted in Emmanuel Macron who sold himself and party, La Republique En Marche, as being “on the left, but not socialist”. This shift to the centre-right came after the failure of the socialist Francois Hollande.
However, seven months after, disenchantment is already setting in. Macron is emerging as an authoritarian figure on the side of business, he has changed labour and tax laws to favour the rich, cut spending on social programmes and is severely critical of the media; the anti-Macron demonstrations have started in the quest for political/economic salvation.
To be continued
The failure of the House of Representatives to arrive at a consensus to enact the Anti-Gang legislation because of differences of opinion between the Government and the Opposition over the length of time for the sunset clause in the bill has raised, once again, the issue of the three-fifths majority.
Earlier this year, the Government and the Opposition were able to enact the Fatca legislation with the three-fifths majority in the House of Representatives by a 39-0 margin. Not this time on the Anti-Gang Bill.
At independence, during the Queen’s Hall Conference in April 1962, the Eric Williams government accepted a recommendation from the then president of the Bar Association, Hugh Wooding, for the model of the Canadian Bill of Rights 1960 to be adopted for the human rights provisions in our independence constitution.
One of the features of the Canadian Bill of Rights 1960 was the permission it granted to Parliament to enact legislation inconsistent with the guarantee of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Parliament is required to state its intention to do so and earn a three-fifths majority as well. The check and balance against the infringement is that a judge may overturn it if he/she deems it not to be “reasonably justifiable in a society that has a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual”.
Because the infringement of human rights is at stake, the three-fifths majority is required. The sticking point in the Anti-Gang Bill was the inability of the Government and the Opposition to agree on the length of time for the sunset clause, either four years (the Government) or two years (the Opposition).
This issue of having to ask the Opposition for its support on certain pieces of legislation during the life of this Parliament has arisen because the Government does not have a three-fifths majority (25 MPs) in its own right. Only in the 1992-1995 (21-13-2), 1995-2000 (17-17-2), January 2001-October 2001 (19-16-1), April 2002-August 2002 (18-18), and 2002-2007 (20-16) Parliaments as well as this one (23-18) has there not been a three-fifths majority among the ranks of the Government side.
That reality has driven up the need for national consensus at a time of greater national political division since the 1990s because of the emergence of a properly functioning two-party system that has seen the pendulum of power swinging back and forth between the PNM and the UNC.
The full effect of the Wooding intervention at the 1962 Queen’s Hall Conference had not been felt until the 1990s and beyond when governments started being elected with smaller majorities that made co-operation with the Opposition a reality. That reality was a function of the emergence of a dedicated second party of substance to challenge the PNM in the form of the UNC after 1989.
The reality for the rest of this Parliament is that the Government will have to live with the idea of seeking the support of the Opposition on all special-majority legislation. Without a general election or some by elections in toss-up constituencies that picture does not have a chance of being changed any time soon.
The argument between the Government and the Opposition about who did or did not support whatever at the committee stage or the final stage on any legislation will always go on each time there is a disagreement.
Our system of government is not based on seeking repeated majorities by parliamentary consensus like some other systems of government, but rather seeking majorities by single-party domination or multi-party coalition. Additionally, the PNM is opposed to the coalition philosophy, while the UNC has been prepared to embrace it in the past.
When the time comes for consensus, our system is ill-equipped to handle it because no government wants any opposition telling it what to do and no opposition wants to give away its demands on any legislation.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
I often wondered why our people are able to ‘put down a wine’ at Carnival but unable to hug or hold hands in public as if the wound goes too deep for that, why many find it almost impossible to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, as if they are admissions of humiliation rather than expressions of civility and warmth.
I wondered at surly service in banks and restaurants, about the 47-year-old female security guard, the latest statistic mowed down by a speeding, careless driver. I wondered at the source of road rage.
I have it too, and was appalled to find myself recently in deadlock with an older woman on a narrow street. We were both seething until I gave in. She ‘won’, but I think, maybe I did. I was less angry.
I think I know why we are turning into a taciturn, raging, distracted people, why we find it hard simply to be kind.
The murder toll as of December 14 was 466. That’s up to two murders a day—among the highest globally.
The truth is we are a grieving country. Fearful (see how we call, text our loved ones on the road, our relief when they are home, safe, reminding us of our anxiety while they are out there).
We are raging, impotent and frustrated at successive governments’ failure to protect us.
The flip side: the mothers of perpetrators either visit graves to see their gunned down boys or visit their incarcerated sons locked up for 23 hours a day for a lifetime. They weep silently for the living and dead.
Their sons have succumbed as easy prey to drug lords, poverty, illiteracy and neglect, and objects of loathing by our crime-ravaged society. Governments have failed them, too.
For each of these murderous boys, no matter how heinous their crime, there are grieving mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, communities, just as there are for victims of crime. Our lives are not worth more than theirs. We have one thing in common on both sides of the wall—they are railing, worrying, weeping and loathing the enemy as much as ‘good citizens’.
The thing is, the enemy is institutionalised, systemic neglect of every institution and infrastructure—from health (we are the among the fattest worldwide with attendant chronic diseases—diabetes, heart disease, hypertension; and education (one in four of us is functionally illiterate to delayed justice—(staggering backlog of cases, innocent men in remand for years); to crumbling infrastructure; to impossible traffic; to plummeting transparency.
The frustration is amplified by the fall in oil prices, the contracting economy, the thousands laid off on both sides of the wall, from cleaners to executives, from Cepep to the buckling private and public sectors.
We are, each of us, fighting hard battles, simply to survive. To give in is suicide, a fatalism that could fell us like neighbouring Venezuela.
We must develop agency as a people to demand good governance, knowing nobody is listening.
Resilience is necessary to survival. I came across an old Harvard Review article that examined resilience by looking at the qualities of the healthy survivors at Auschwitz at Hitler’s concentration camps.
They include a shield comprising humour (we have this); the ability to form attachments to others and, crucially, ‘the possession of an inner psychological space that protected the survivors from the intrusions of abusive others’.
It could be that this recession by denying us the ability to cover up grief with money, could unmask what we have always wanted: to love and be loved; to uncover lost joy without electronics, with a book; tell stories to our children or talk to the people in our lives, really talk; marvel at our lush, ever-changing landscape of ocean, sky and foliage; to give the needy the ultimate gift of time; to allow this Christmas to shift us from despair to hope and agency to fight for our drowning country.
“We’ll get a new house so we could start a new life and be happy.” Those were the words of 11-year-old Akel Alexander yesterday after his grandmother collected her allocations package from the Housing Development Corporation at a key distribution ceremony in Port-of-Spain.
Akel, who accompanied his grandmother to receive a package, which represents the final step toward home ownership, was all smiles and bouncing with energy as he spoke.
“I wish we could go there now,” the child said while holding his grandmother’s hand.
In reality, Akel and his grandmother Marcia Wells will have to wait approximately six weeks to finalise their arrangements with the T&T Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF) for the new Carlsen Field home.
For Wells, six weeks is no time at all when compared to the 20 years she has been praying and hoping for a call from the corporation, after dropping off her initial application.
“I had children then. Now I have grandchildren. In that time I maybe could have paid off for a house already but I am so elated, just so happy that this is finally happening for my family. I’ve been paying rent and the space we had was just too small for all of us so I am happy we have gotten something.”
For Wells, it also means a new start for her grandchildren away from the crime and negative influences associated with East Port-of-Spain.
She said since getting the call from HDC, her grandson had asked about the house every day.
“He would come every day and ask ‘Are we still getting the house?’ and ‘I am just so glad that soon we will be able to pack up our lives and start somewhere new.’”
Wells was among 140 people who yesterday received packages to begin their new lives in HDC housing developments in Carlsen Field, Chaguanas; Cypress Gardens, San Fernando; Fairfield, Princes Town; Oasis Greens, Chaguanas; and Testrail, D’Abadie. Members of the Protective Services were among the recipients.
This final ceremony for the year means the HDC has surpassed its target of 700 for the last three months of the year and allocated close to 1,200 houses in 2017.
Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said allocations are expected to continue in the new year.
The Government is yet to outline any specific plans to address its growing debt to contractors. In the meanwhile, the association representing the group has advised its members to take legal steps to get money owed to them.
In an interview with the Guardian last week, Contractors’ Association President Ramlogan Roopnarinesingh estimated that the growing debt to contractors was over $4 billion.
The government agencies responsible for the majority of debt to contractors are the Education Facilities Management Company (EFCL) with a reported debt of between $800 million and $1.2 billion dollars; the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) with a reported debt of between $700 to $800 million; and the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), which faces a billion-dollar debt to contractors and suppliers.
In 2017 Finance Minister Colm Imbert budgeted $1.8 billion for the payment of debt to contractors but this reporter could find no similar amount allocated for fiscal 2018.
While Government, in an out of Parliament, has blamed the country’s economic problems for some of the delays, several contractors are considering legal action over breach of contract due to non-payment.
According to Section 3 of the Limitation of Certain Actions Act contractors only have four years from the breach of contract to take any action, and for several of them, 2018 is the fourth year.
However, sources said it was unlikely that Government would use this defence.
Even as contractors are considering legal action, some have already brought projects to a standstill with more reported to stop in 2018 as they demand payment for work done.
‘Businesses forced to close, people losing job’
Roopnarinesingh said Government’s lack of detailed information about payments was a major concern.
“If you are in charge and you don’t know when this debt will be paid, how will contractors know? How long can we tell the bank we have money outstanding and not getting paid? The bank will foreclose on you.”
Roopnarinesingh noted that Government had made some payments in 2017 but said he was not aware of how much was paid or to whom.
“Under the law, you are allowed four years to take action. If you send an invoice and you haven’t been paid you can take the other party to court.
“The thing about it, we have advised contractors they have a four year period that they could take the Government to court to get their money. We have advised members that they could pursue that avenue.”
He said contractors were dissatisfied with the pace at which Government was moving.
“There are a lot of contractors who closed down and lost businesses and properties and that means decreased employment for more and more people.
“Think of it like this, if you are working and not getting paid, your expenses would continue but you are not being paid. All your bills continue. Eventually, something is going to give. A contract is basicall a job.”
He said while many people thought contractors made a lot of money, what they saw reported in the news was the worth of the contract and not what contractors are paid.
In a Public Accounts Committee meeting last week, WASA officials admitted that the authority had a $300 million exposure due to litigation from contractors and a security services contract which was terminated.
While this reporter was unable to reach Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte via his mobile phone last week, both Education Minister Anthony Garcia and Housing Minister Randall Mitchell responded to questions.
PM: Please be patient
PM Keith Rowley, meanwhile, has called for patience from contractors as the country tries to tackle some of its outstanding debts while taking on new projects.
“We pay them on the basis that we don’t satisfy one person and starve the other. We don’t have enough money to wipe off all the debts because the Government is carrying a large debt and at the same time we are entering into new contracts so you have the old debt from the work that was done and the new debt from the work that you are engaging in,” Rowley said.
He said the entire situation was a balancing act.
“If we don’t pay the old debt those contractors could die and if you don’t have new contracts then you have no economy so it is a balancing act we are doing and until we have enough revenue to smooth out the situation away from this peaks and troughs arrangement then we are going to have these problems but I am sure that we are going to get over it,” he said.
Rowley said the Government will continue to engage with contractors to correct all outstanding issues.
In terms of the country’s financial situation, Rowley said he hoped the population would begin to understand that the Government is trying to do as much as it can with very limited financial resources.
“Nobody is trying to hurt anybody or trying to harm anybody nobody is being wicked we are just trying to work with the limited resources that we have,” he said.
Three people are to be charged with obstructing the free flow of traffic following a protest along the east-bound lane of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Maloney yesterday, the Police Service has stated.
Around 8 am yesterday, residents from Maloney Gardens protesting water woes in their area blocked off a portion of the highway and other streets inside their community, including Flamingo Boulevard.
Discarded Appliances and other debris were thrown on to the roadways.
Vehicles using the affected roadways were unable to proceed.
Police responded to the situation and cleared the roadways and arrested several people. Around noon, the area was declared safe.
Several Maloney residents also gathered along the roadside and clapped and chanted for the return of a regular service of pipe borne water to the area.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Jacob and Snr Supt Daniel along with a contingent of officers from the Northern Division were on the scene.
People can express their opinion but not in a way that's illegal—MP
Arouca/Maloney MP Camille Robinson-Regis arrived on the scene around noon to listen to the residents’ woes.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian after, she said “Wasa had sent water trucks to the area, I understand when trucks came some residents turned back the trucks.
“It makes me a little concerned about that, but I understand the anxiety. I was disappointed that they felt that they had to protest because it was not necessary.
“But people have a right to express their opinion but not in a way that is illegal, so I can’t condone an illegal action.”
She said she gave out her cellphone number to several people in all parts of her constituency which included Maloney, Bon Air, Trincity and Arouca to call in case of emergencies.
Robinson-Regis said she did a walk every Sunday morning and Thursday in some parts of her constituency and that she was approachable.
—Joel Julien, Charles Kong Soo
Cataract surgeries valued over $250,000 will be done free tomorrow for 25 patients who are in dire need and deemed to be “financially constrained”.
This early Christmas gift is sponsored by Dr Ronnie Bhola of the Trinidad Eye Hospital (TEH). The “Gift of Sight” project will be conducted in collaboration with Good Health Medical in Port-of-Spain and several other sponsors.
Bhola, 48, is the director and consultant ophthalmologist at the Caribbean Vitreous & Retina Surgery Limited (CVRS Ltd) and currently, the chairman of the Trinidad Eye Hospital.
He is a British-trained eye consultant with sub-specialty training in vitreous and retina surgery and is currently an associate lecturer with the University of the West Indies and an adjunct professor with the Moran Eye Institute.
Speaking with the Sunday Guardian, Bhola said all year long, many patients postpone or cancel their eye surgery appointments due to lack of funds to pay for their operations.
“Some lose their eyesight simply because they remain on waiting lists in desperate need of operation. These patients struggle with everyday needs and are forced to be dependent on others because of avoidable visual impairment,” Bhola said.
Bhola's drive to help others is not only about his compassion and empathy towards patients, but it is in keeping with the Ministry of Health's plan to reduce the backlog of cataract surgeries and the World Health Organization’s global initiative to ‘Eliminate Avoidable Blindness, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’.
Since 2013, Bhola has coordinated a team of surgeons, nurses, healthcare professionals and sponsors to give back on an annual basis by performing cataract surgeries for free. This year is no different; he has so far done over $2.5 million in surgeries free of charge.
Bhola will be having a similar charity event next year called “Christmas in July!”
“The management and staff of Trinidad Eye Hospital are grateful for this opportunity, taking example from many other medical practitioners who have used their skills throughout the year to do charitable service in patient communities across our country,” he said.
Bhola, who grew up in Fyzabad, attended the University of the West Indies Jamaica (1993-MBBS), Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (1999-FRCS), University of Sheffield (2006-Dip Ed) and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists London (2007-CCT).
A grateful recipient praises Bhola
One of this year’s recipient of Bhola’s gift, Fariza Khan, of Carapichaima, praised Bhola on his “good deeds” and urged other doctors to follow suit. “It is a major sacrifice that he is doing and it shows that he is grateful to the people and the community by him giving back in this form and if other doctors should do the same, this country will be a better place in terms of where healthcare is supposed to be at.
“I am grateful to the doctor for having me be part of this…it is a miracle come true for me and I cannot wait to see perfectly again in my left eye…May Allah continue to bless him,” Khan added.
CHARLES KONG SOO
The traffic challenges and overpopulation in the central business district of Port-of-Spain have driven organizations, local and international, to developing commercial hubs/districts outside of the capital city.
Commercial developers have capitalized on this and met demand through new projects in developing areas such as Aranguez, Trincity and Chaguanas, which offer ample office, retail and warehouse space, abundant parking and greater access to other parts of the country.
In an interview last week, Port-of-Spain businessman Wil Chang said it was more convenient to shop in these locations outside of the capital.
He said although for the past four years rent in those areas had increased or doubled, it was still “slightly cheaper” than in Port-of-Spain.
Asked if when these businesses migrated out of the capital, rental costs or real estate value dropped, he said they remained the same.
Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (Doma) President Gregory Aboud, in an interview, had a different view.
He said rent in Port-of-Spain was actually far less than outside, compared to West Mall or Trincity Mall which were attracting customers.
The epicentre for retail trade is in downtown Port-of-Spain on Fredrick, Henry and Charlotte streets.
A mall on Henry Street has a spot advertised at $38,000 for 500 square feet which work out to $76 per square foot.
The rent at a leading mall in north Trinidad averages $35 to $40 per square foot.
At the Government-owned New City Mall, in Port-of-Spain, a tenant revealed that a 10'x10' store costs $900 per month and a 20'X10' store costs $2,000.
He said at the “ethnically dominated” malls a store can cost from $15,000 to $20,000 a month and a small kiosk can cost $8,000.
At another Government mall, East Side Plaza, it costs between $1,000 to $1,500 for a store and $500 for a kiosk, the drawback is a lack of amenities such as central air-conditioning.
Real estate takes steep nosedive
Along Melville Lane and other parts of Port-of-Spain, there are business places with "For Sale" or "For Rent" signs up.
The real estate agency Terra Caribbean published an article in November which stated that while Port-of-Spain is the business centre for much of the country and is an important financial services hub for the Caribbean, the commercial density has resulted in challenges in parking, traffic and office space availability.
Terra Caribbean Trinidad's ten-year Commercial Rental Rate Study from 2007-2017 revealed that in three short years, 2014 to present, the commercial office rental real estate market had taken a steep nosedive into near stagnation.
The data was collated from over 40 buildings and the study focused on A Class, B+ Class and B Class buildings within high demand areas with the purpose of assisting and advising tenants, building owners and developers on pricing decisions and market rates.
Within the last two years (2015-2017), however, as large corporations of the petrochemical industry had downsized operations globally, as well as in Trinidad, in response to a worldwide decrease in the demand for oil and by-products of oil, space in A Class and B Class commercial buildings had become available, resulting in a vacancy rate of approximately 20-25 per cent in the private office rental market.
In response to the rapid shift in the economy, some commercial tenants capitalized on decreased rental rates in A Class and B Class spaces and relocated to upgraded locations. The information showed that the current commercial office rental market was conducive for tenants to relocate from substandard accommodations to superior, more modern buildings.