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Updated: 24 min 4 sec ago

Make cocoa T&T’s national fruit

13 hours 44 min ago

Natasha Lee, President of the National 4-H council of T&T, wants cocoa to be named the country’s national fruit.

She said T&T’s rich history with cocoa, which at one time was a key contributor to the economy, makes it is good choice.

Lee explained: “We all have heard the words ‘When cocoa was King’ and yes, it was. We had an entire productive industry based on this crop and today we are trying as hard as possible to get more people, especially young people, back on board when it comes to cocoa production.

“Its time that cocoa be given the recognition it deserves as the national fruit. Trinidad and Tobago cocoa has won many awards and needless to say we have the best cocoa in the world. 4-H is also working in partnership with Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited on a new project that is training members in bringing the bean to the chocolate bar.”

Lee said the workshop, which focused on plant propagation, was aimed at giving 4-H clubs a skill that could help them raise revenue for projects in hard economic times.

“Our voluntary leaders have left today with vital skills of propagating plants, especially budding and grafting skills. This means that groups can produce grafted avocado plants, grafted mango and citrus.

“When we go to the plant shops we see these grafted fruit trees selling at high prices. Avocado plants are selling for as much as $90 a plant. With these new skills clubs now have an avenue to raise revenue and can have annual plant sales if not this year, certainly next year. As we struggle with the realities of the economy we have to be creative when it comes to earning money and saving money through growing our own food,” she said.

TSTT celebrates fibre network milestone

13 hours 47 min ago

Telecommunication Services of T&T (TSTT) is celebrating the doubling of customers connected to its fibre network. In a statement, CEO Dr. Ronald Walcott reiterated that the company’s fibre network had reached a footprint of more than 100,000 homes in December.

He said, “This is nothing short of meteoric considering that in May 2017, TSTT announced its plans to purchase Massy Communications (now known as AMPLIA Communications). The combined fibre network of both covered just about 54,000 homes. This represents a 200 per cent expansion in just seven months, helping TSTT to reach its five-year goal of reaching 200,000 homes.”

Walcott added that installing a fibre-based network and expanding TSTT’s existing Fixed Wireless Broadband Long-Term Evolution network will provide an opportunity for improved service delivery to existing and potential customers, as well as increase revenue for the telecom company.

“Our improved network will support a solid foundation that provides reliable, ‘lightning speed’ access for customers and users, an imperative for our competitive advantage and business’ survival.”

Regarding Tobago, he said the island has been one of the key beneficiaries of TSTT’s fibre expansion programme, with as much as 80 per cent of all households falling within the catchment area of the network. He added that “TSTT’s universal access philosophy has enabled the company to focus on areas that have been under-served by other service providers. “

According to Walcott, in Tobago TSTT has a base of 17,000 homes and in communities like Penal and Santa Flora, customers have embraced TSTT for being digitally inclusive by empowering the residents with access to the most advanced communications solutions

“TSTT’s investment in future-proofing its network along with our convergence strategy of becoming a broadband company will provide long term financial viability and sustainability. We must therefore remain committed to our Digital Transformation efforts because there simply is no other way,” Walcott said.

Dispute payouts up to $300,000

13 hours 48 min ago

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon says some 700 reports regarding the purchase of products are made annually by unsatisfied consumers.

However, the new National Consumer Policy of T&T will not only ensure consumers are sufficiently well-informed and empowered, but also minimise and discourage unfair business practices.

Gopee-Scoon made the comment while delivering the feature address at the policy’s official launch at Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain, on Friday.

She said while existing consumer protection legislation provided some protection to consumers, there were still some deficiencies in addressing several important emerging issues, such as protection for services and digital content transactions.

As such, Gopee-Scoon said it is proposed that existing Consumer Protection and Safety Act, Chapter 84:34, be repealed and replaced in main, but not exclusively, with the provisions of the approved Caricom Model Consumer Protection Legislation in the form of the New Consumer Protection and Empowerment Act.

“More specifically, the new legislation places greater emphasis on consumer empowerment through additional rights and guarantees for consumers of goods, services and digital content. Another major aspect of the proposed legislation is the establishment of a quasi-judicial tribunal,” Gopee-Scoon said.

She said this medium will provide consumers with quick, inexpensive and binding means of settling consumer disputes up to a maximum of $300,000 in a timely manner.

Specifically, the new legislation will make provisions to address the following:

1. False, misleading or deceptive representations

2. Prohibition of restrictive trade practices

3. Prohibition of unfair trade practices

4. Misleading conduct in relation to employment advertising

5. Unreasonable transactions

6. Unfair and unjust transactions

7. Unconscionable conduct

8. Renegotiation of terms

9. Bait advertising

10. Referral selling

11. Pyramid selling

Gopee-Scoon added, “As it relates to penalties, the new Consumer Protection and Empowerment Act will expand beyond the current enforcement responses of authorised officers, allowing more stringent provisions against offences such as misleading, false and malicious advertisements.”

She said given the recently approved National e-Commerce Policy, there is an urgent need to harmonise the contents of the two policies to address holistically, consumerism and consumer protection in the current dispensation.

The minister added that as digital content awareness was also creating a huge e-commerce market globally, the new legislation will establish guarantees for digital content similarly included in the 2015 UK Consumer Rights Act, which include a guarantee to acceptable quality and a guarantee that digital content is fit for particular purpose.

“The New Consumer Policy seeks to address fulsomely, the issue of errant businesses, strengthen the avenues for timely redress against such businesses that persist in pursuing unfair business practices and make provisions for service providers and distance content issues,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Mixed views on re-negotiating gas contracts

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 21:59

Former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has no problem with Government seeking a better deal for gas contracts.

He told the T&T Guardian: “The Train 1 agreement expires in September 2018. I would assume that the Train 1 owners (mainly BP and Shell) would want the commercial life of Train 1 extended or renewed. This of course presents an opportunity for the Government to renegotiate a new Train 1 agreement that gives the country more value from that particular Train.

“When this was raised with me three years ago, our position was that any new Train 1 agreement would be premised on BP finding new natural gas. This has happened with the discoveries of Savannah and Macadamia.

“The ball is in the Government’s court on whether Train 1 will be continued post September 2018.”

At a PNM post general council briefing at Balisier House last week, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said Government had already had preliminary discussions with some gas companies and is open to talking about re-negotiating contracts.

Khan said the Government is not extracting as much economic rent as it could from gas companies. Ramnarine said whatever is re-negotiated must be done in good faith.

“Sanctity of contract is a fundamental pillar of modern commerce and any attempt to renegotiate LNG off take contracts would have to be done via mutual agreement between the contracting parties which happen to be privately owned entities.

“We must also be cognisant that when companies evaluate investment decisions they consider political risk as one of the variables,” he said.

In a statement on its website, the Energy Chamber of T&T urged caution around the renegotiation of contracts. The group said it is reasonable, given the country’s current revenue situation, for Government to want to revisit some contractual arrangements in the sector where there is opportunity to get higher economic rents.

The Chamber said while it recognises the rights of parties to respectfully revisit contracts or regulations when conditions change, Government must protect T&T’s reputation as a country where commercial contracts with international companies are respected.

“In any renegotiations, the Government must be mindful of our well-deserved reputation as a jurisdiction that fully respects commercial contracts.

“We must ensure that this reputation is preserved or even strengthened in this process. In this regard, we were pleased by the relevant statements made during the Prime Minister’s closing remarks which suggest that he is so minded,” the group warned.

We need to close gap

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 00:05

Financial literacy is a key component of the entire apparatus for consumer protection. And a financially educated society will bring together its financial resources to produce a stronger economy, which is particularly important given the tough economic climate.

This was the view of Central Bank Governor Alvin Hilaire during the National Financial Education Committee launch at the Central Bank, Port-of-Spain, on Monday.

“When you look at consumer protection and education within the form of a major apparatus there must four pillars, firstly knowledge, including knowing the product and the risks. Then there is transparency and market conduct.

“Clearly, the individual does not work alone and we want to make sure there is transparency in how the products are unveiled. It is no use being given a long, long form that nobody understands and that everyone can’t relate to,” Hilaire said.

He said there was a need for “ethical financial institutions” which are able to not only prevent matters but to operate in good faith.

“We want financial institutions to not only explain the products but to conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards,” Hilaire said.

He said redress was also a significant aspect, adding that in other countries there was the availability of a fair trading commission.

“This is something we don’t have, so we need to work on these things to make sure that things don’t fall through the cracks. When you have an educated public it creates and awareness so you do not have a problem in the end,” he said.

Financial Services Ombudsman Dominic Stoddard, who also spoke, said an estimated 21 per cent of T&T’s population remained unbanked.

“Our financial literacy survey found that 44 per cent of the population have low financial capabilities,” Stoddard said.

He said financial capability was measured according to three dimensions, including one’s ability to make ends meet, planning ahead for one’s financial future and knowledge of financial products and services.

“As a country we need to re-examine our relationship with money. Financial literacy is a life skill that you don’t just pick up along the way. Most of us adults would have wished from an early age we had an opportunity to lean about money and to develop responsible financial behaviour,” Stoddard said.

He said from 2017 to date they had held sessions with over 5000 people across the age spectrum and geography throughout T&T, but this was still insufficient.

“There is a deep and pervasive negative view of the financial sector. I see almost 1000 complaints annually, most of which could have been avoided had the public been properly informed, had the benefit of a financial literacy session and had the confidence to ask appropriate questions,” Stoddard said.

The committee comprises the Bankers’ Association of T&T (BATT), Central Bank’s National Financial Literacy Programme, T&T Credit Union League, Association of T&T Insurance Companies, Tobago House of Assembly’s Financial Literacy Secretariat, Securities and Exchange Commission of T&T and the T&T Stock Exchange.

JMMB ends week as volume leader

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 00:03

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 422,297 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $12,064,007.67. JMMB Group Ltd was the volume leader with 253,010 shares changing hands for a value of $495,253.77, followed by The West Indian Tobaco Company Ltd with a volume of 99,742 shares being traded for $8,832,154.10.

Trinidad & Tobago NGL Ltd contributed 23,609 shares with a value of $661,622.97, while Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Ltd added 16,032 shares valued at $1,002,000.00.

The West Indian Tobaco Company Ltd registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.05 to end the day at $88.55.

Conversely, NCB Financial Group Ltd registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.03 to close at $6.50.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 18,800 shares valued at $378,030.00. Clico Investment Fund advanced by $0.01 to end at $20.11. Bourse Brazil Latin Fund remained at $8.40. Calypso Macro Index Fund remained at $20.48. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Development Fund remained at $0.67. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Value Fund remained at $1.70. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund remained at $3.05.

The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. Mora Ven Holdings Ltd remained at $14.49.

Energy Chamber supports Govt’s renegotiation of contracts plan

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 00:01

The Energy Chamber of T&T says it is in full support of the Government’s position that citizens must benefit from the wealth which comes from the energy sector. However, it says the challenge for any government in a resource-rich country is to put the legislation, systems, policies, procedures and contractual provisions in place to ensure this takes place.

In a statement yesterday, the Energy Chamber said, “To create value from its natural resources, governments often need to attract very significant levels of investment from companies who possess the capital, the right technical know-how and the experience to safely and effectively monetize these resources.

“As the Prime Minister stated, this involves creating a stable partnership between the State and the oil and gas companies; something which T&T has done well over many decades. T&T has been very successful in attracting investment from international companies which have the highest standards in terms of protecting the health and safety of employees and contractors, communities and the environment.”

At Wednesday’s Spotlight on Energy conference, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the time had come for the contracts of multi-nationals to be re-negotiated. He had also said T&T had given incentives to extent that it is now in a loss making financial position and this cannot happen any longer, adding T&T’s revenue from energy had decreased from $20 billion to $1 billion.

Commenting on this, the Energy Chamber said, “Given the current revenue situation facing the country, it is reasonable for the Government to want to revisit some of the contractual arrangements in the sector, where there is an opportunity to receive higher economic rents.

“In the Spotlight on Energy hosted by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, the Government specifically cited the marketing agreements for LNG. The fact that the marketing contracts for LNG from Train 1 come to an end this year provides the opportunity to renegotiate those contracts to ensure that more value flows back to T&T.”

On the issue of the Government saying it would like to revisit the marketing arrangement for LNG processed through Trains 2, 3 and 4, the Chamber said it “recognises the rights of parties to respectfully revisit contracts or regulations when conditions change.”

“In any renegotiations, the Government must be mindful of our well-deserved reputation as a jurisdiction that fully respects commercial contracts,” the Chamber said.

“We must ensure that this reputation is preserved or even strengthened in this process. n this regard, we were pleased by the relevant statements made during the Prime Minister’s closing remarks which suggest that he is so minded.”

Regarding Government’s commitment on local content, the Chamber said it welcomed the renewed focus of the Government on local content.

“The Energy Chamber has championed increased local content for many years and we hope that the renewed focus on this issue by the Ministry of Energy will be sustained and will move beyond a statement of intent to definitive actions that will assist value retention in country.”

Revenue Authority can fix it—Colm

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:59

The 2017 Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) performance assessment report prepared by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has found weaknesses and deficiencies in our tax administration which can only be improved with the establishment of the T&T Revenue Authority (TTRA).

This was the claim made by Finance Minister Colm Imbert as he laid the report in Parliament yesterday.

The report gave the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) a poor grading of is taxation system in several areas, he said.

The report, which provides the IRD in strengthening domestic revenue mobilisation, was compiled by the IMF following a visit by a team to T&T from September 20 to October 3, 2017, and outlined strengths and weaknesses in our taxation system.

While Imbert said T&T had made substantial and significant progress in reforming our taxation system for improving domestic revenues, he noted that our system has been under-performing and continues to suffer from serious issues with its organisational structure, governance and non-compliance, which led to the People’s National Movement putting in place the TTRA.

The report focused on nine key performance outcome areas (POAs), ranging from timely filing of tax declarations, effective tax dispute resolutions, efficient revenue management, effective risk management and accountability and transparency.

Imbert said the POAs are informed by 28 high level indicators critical to tax administration performance, which used a four-point score system—ranging from A to D—with A being the highest and D being the lowest.

In the nine POA areas—integrity of the registered taxpayer base, effective risk management, supporting voluntary compliance, timely filing of tax declaration, timely payment of taxes, accurate reporting in declarations, effective tax dispute resolution, effective revenue management and accountability and transparency, T&T’s tax system got a rating of 17 Ds, one D+, eight Cs, one A and a B. Some of the Ds were given for timeliness of payments, use of electronic filing facilities and public perception of integrity. The A was received for our efficient collection system, Imbert said.

“This finding of inherent weaknesses in our tax system administration has not come as a surprise to us and we must make every effort to correct the deficiencies that have been identified in a timely manner.

“The proposed TTRA will embrace best practice standards in domestic tax administration. It will provide efficiency and domestic revenue mobilisation and fast and efficient quality of service to taxpayers, through simple, transparent and up-to-date procedures,” Imbert said.

Imbert said the report represents a useful baseline of tax administration on which the authority would now build.

MP Bhoe Tewarie asked Imbert how long it will take to plug the tax leakages.

Imbert said while several of the scores were Ds, it was imperative the TTRA be established. He said the report looked at weaknesses in the system and did not “go to the actual quantum of estimates that were loss.”

JMMB Group is volume leader

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 00:32

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 202,326 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $2,481,719.23. JMMB Group Ltd was the volume leader with 96,595 shares changing hands for a value of $188,472.25, followed by Guardian Holdings Ltd with a volume of 23,924 shares being traded for $382,820.88. T&T NGL Ltd contributed 20,156 shares with a value of $564,356.50, while GraceKennedy Ltd added 20,000 shares valued at $66,800.00.

T&T NGL Ltd registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.05 to end the day at $28.00. Conversely,

First Citizens Bank Ltd registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.28 to close at $32.19.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 64,802 shares valued at $1,302,520.20. Clico Investment Fund remained at $20.10. Bourse Brazil Latin Fund remained at $8.40. Calypso Macro Index Fund remained at $20.48. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Development Fund remained at $0.67. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Value Fund remained at $1.70. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund remained at $3.05.

The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. Mora Ven Holdings Ltd remained at $14.49.

PM’s comments will deter investors —Persad-Bissessar

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 00:31

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described comments by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at Wednesday’s Energy Conference as a “show” in an attempt to give citizens the impression the Government was working. She also accused Rowley of using the wrong tone to multi-national companies, which could result in such entities leaving T&T.

She was commenting on Rowley’s statement that it was time for the contracts of multi-nationals in the energy sector to be re-opened and re-negotiated, so that citizens can reap the rewards from energy revenues.

Rowley’s statement came after stakeholders and commentators had called for the arrangements within the Supplemental Petroleum Tax to be changed, because multi-nationals in the energy sector were no longer enjoying revenue from an oil price of more than US$100 per barrel.

But in a release yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said the PM’s comments fell short of expectations and demonstrated “just how out of touch” Rowley was with the country’s current economic reality.

“It appears that apart from being another public relations exercise, the event was aimed at ‘bouffing’ multi-national companies in the energy sector. The tone of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s speech and his statements about multi-national companies will likely cause uncertainty in the energy sector, and further discourage and deter investment,” she said.

“Following that tirade, I wouldn’t be surprised if these multi-national companies seek to do business elsewhere, in friendly, more stable environments.”

Persad-Bissessar said Rowley also seemed to have moved on from blaming the Opposition to blaming the largest investors, proving that “he will lash out anyone to cover his own incompetence.”

She said incentives offered by the former People’s Partnership administration had a positive impact on the energy sector.

“Having no ideas, vision or plan for the development of the energy sector, or for the diversification of our economy, Dr Rowley continues his attempts at misleading the public, and maligning the good work of the former People’s Partnership government. The Prime Minister failed to address what measures would be put in place to generate revenue, create sustainable jobs and revitalise sectors to drive economic growth,” Persad-Bissessar added.

She urged the Government to focus on stabilising the economy and working on fixing the issues facing the country, rather than in engaging in yet another unnecessary, expensive talk shop.

We generate value for T&T

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 00:29

BPTT has responded to the call by the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for the renegotiation of LNG contracts by saying it is not impossible to align its shareholders’ interest with that of the government. But the company would only talk yesterday about negotiating the Train 1 contract which is about to expire.

In a carefully worded statement to queries from the T&T Guardian, bpTT did not deal with the PM’s central call for the renegotiation of contracts years before they are due to expire.

“We do not believe that seeking the interests of our shareholders and seeking the interests of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are mutually exclusive principles. In fact, we believe it is essential to align both interests. We are already in negotiations on the Atlantic Train 1 contract which expires in September 2018. We believe that the negotiations can be concluded with outcomes that seek the mutual long term interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and our company.”

At Wednesday’s Spotlight on Energy, the PM raised the possibility of a renegotiation of the LNG contracts.

He said, “There is a willingness not to treat contracts as cast in stone. While contracts bind us to terms and conditions, if the conditions (in the global energy market) have changed dramatically, then the re-opening and the renegotiation is a reasonable demand of the people of T&T. We anticipate that our partners in this business will see our claim as a fair and just one. We anticipate that there would be some re-opening of contracts, so that at the end of the day, we can all benefit from the riches of T&T.”

To understand the issue in its simplest form, bpTT and Shell Trinidad are the two largest owners of Atlantic LNG and also the two suppliers of natural gas to the plant. There are four processing plants at Atlantic and each plant has different combination of ownership. Each processing facility is called a train and each “train” was built at different times and are governed by 20-year contracts. The trains were completed in 1999, 2002 and 2005. Therefore, the first contract expires next year, the second in 2022 and the third in 2025. It is the contracts that expire in 2022 and in particular 2025 that the Government wants renegotiated now.

BPTT told the T&T Guardian that its LNG shipments from Trinidad and Tobago are “part of the company’s global LNG portfolio, which is managed carefully to ensure compliance with local and global gas contractual commitments. In this way, we continue to generate value for both Trinidad and Tobago and our company.”

Asked if it agrees with the estimates from the Government’s consultants, Poten and Partners, that the country lost billions of US dollars from LNG exports, BPTT said, “In terms of your question on estimates used in Wednesday’s Spotlight on Energy, we were not privy to the underlying assumptions and data sources used to determine the “value leakage” and we are thus, unable to comment.”

Commenting on the issue, however, economist Dr Ronald Ramkissoon yesterday said the Government’s attempt to renegotiate the agreements will be difficult because the country is not in a strong position. He argued that the move was to essentially break a contract and while parties may be open to make changes, Trinidad and Tobago must approach it will skill and tact.

“The issue of negotiating strength does not favour Trinidad and Tobago at this time. It has a lot to do with how disposed the companies are to the Government’s proposal.

“We must also accept that whatever agreements exist, we went into them with our eyes wide open and we may or may not have put our best people to do those negotiations,” Ramkissoon explained.

He said while there is no harm in asking a partner to renegotiate the contracts given the changed circumstances, one must recognise in such a situation you are in effect breaking a contract and its not the same as negotiating a new contract, as would be the case with Train 1.

PRW Enterprises owner dies

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 01:20

Businessman Phillip Weston, owner of popular PRW Enterprises which is head-quartered in San Juan, has died.

Weston, 58, a father of two and grandfather of one, died on Monday night after recently recovering from pneumonia, his wife Shanti said yesterday. In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Shanti said Weston died of heart failure at the St James Infirmary.

Weston operated six branches of PRW across T&T and was one of the leading suppliers of computer and computer accessories across the Eastern Caribbean for more than 20 years.

Shanti said she married Weston in 2000 and they had more plans to build the company.

“We will still move forward with the company in memory of him. He wanted to go up the island and yes I definitely plan to do that for him,” she said.

She described Weston as the “most loving, respectable, great businessman and awesome husband.”

“Everyone who knew him loved that man. He will be dearly missed by everyone of us,” she said.

The funeral will be held at the Trinidad Christian Centre, Morne Coco Road, Petit Valley, on Friday at 10 am.

San Juan Business Association PRO Abrahim Ali said yesterday that Weston had made a huge impact on the country’s financial sector.

“He has contributed tremendously in providing services to the social media of the country and we will surely miss the contribution that he has provided to our sector.

We extend condolences to his immediate family and friends as they mourn his passing,” he said.

eTecK goes after $14m in bad debts

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 01:18

The Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) has undertaken aggressive debt collection as it targets an outstanding $14 million and is also ending 99-year leases.

This was indicated by company chairman Imtiaz Ahamad and acting president Maureen Singh when eTecK management appeared before a Parliamentary committee on Monday.

Ahamad had said the company’s two biggest issues were making the Magdalena Grand hotel in Tobago viable and tenanting the $1. billion Tamana Industrial Park. Solution-wise, eTeck is sourcing a new long-term operator for the Magdalena - due by October - and is working with InvesTT finding more tenants for the 21-site park.

The company is also devising other ways to meet challenges.

Singh said eTecK is also owed $14m by debtors up to periods of four months and the company has focused heavily on debt collection in the last year. Seventy-five per cent of the debt is collectible, she added. Its own debt - $455 million - is being serviced by the Finance Ministry.

Ahamad said there are other areas under way to improve eTeck’s position, including cost control and exploring service fees for leases that permit this. The new board also decided to end 99-year leases due to the economic situation. He said eTeck would take on board the parliamentary committee’s advice to dialogue with lease holders on reducing lease periods like the 99-year leases.

Committee member David Small said, “You can’t have people sitting on prime property paying $1 a year for a lease or paying less than $100 per square foot for leased land - like in Diamond Vale.”

The company is also focusing on its agro-processing industrial park at Moruga, which Singh said is needed for communities in that region. Other plans to increase asset base involve another industrial park - the 133-acre Phoenix Park project. Plans are also in the works to sell unused sites.

Scotiabank T&T gains $0.48

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 01:03

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 582,795 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $15,099,427.03. Angostura Holdings Ltd was the volume leader with 205,260 shares changing hands for a value of $3,222,629.80, followed by Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Ltd with a volume of 88,670 shares being traded for $5,541,558.11. First- Caribbean International Bank Ltd contributed 88,598 shares with a value of $823,961.40, while Prestige Holdings Ltd added 35,783 shares valued at $359,619.15.

Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Ltd registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.48 to end the day at $62.50. Conversely, Massy Holdings Ltd registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.05 to close at $47.44.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 5,743 shares valued at $115,434.30.

Clico Investment Fund remained at $20.10. Bourse Brazil Latin Fund remained at $8.40. Calypso Macro Index Fund remained at $20.48. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Development Fund remained at $0.67. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Value Fund remained at $1.70. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund remained at $3.05.

The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. Mora Ven Holdings Ltd remained at $14.49.

Energy Ministryincorporate firmto find more gas

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 22:38

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Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, says the Government has taken a policy decision to create a company that will partner with members of the upstream sector because there is still gas to be discovered.

He added that the Government is seeing opportunity in the exploration and production of gas, especially in “marginal and stranded fields, which means that the larger companies have extracted the gas but there are still little pockets of gas around which are no longer economical for the big companies to extract due to the cost factor. The gas is there, NGC is waiting on the gas we have a ready market. NGC is waiting on the gas to then send it downstream,” Young said while speaking at the energy conference hosted by the Ministry of Energy and at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

He said the Government had taken a decision to incorporate a company that “would partner with more nimble players in the upstream (sector), have conversations with (them), to go find those stranded pockets of gas in those marginal fields and bring into production so we can then sell it to the downstream.”

Permanent Local Content Committee chairman Anthony Paul said T&T needs to manage its resources properly. He said the country should not only rely on the findings in the Ryder Scott report alone, because that report only highlights the findings and does not highlight what is yet to be discovered.

Commenting on young people graduating from universities in T&T and internationally being unable to find jobs in the energy sector, Paul said, “We train a lot of bright young people as engineers and they are unemployed or under employed, and we have, on the other hand, a generation that is about to retire, therefore, there is need to manage our resources more prudently.”

Energy Minister Franklin Khan said most of the recruitment done by the ministry is done through the Public Services Commission. Giving an example, he said the ministry had advertised for a suite of entry level positions, but it was blocked by the Public Services Association and then taken to court. But he said the ministry won the case and was able to proceed with its recruitment exercise.

“We want to bring in a mentorship programme. There was this Petroleum Geo Science degree offered at the UWI. For the first time in the many years that I am in this country, the applicants of this programme had to go through a more stringent programme than medicine,” Khan said.

“We had island scholars applying for petroleum geo science, the brightest and best graduated from that programme. Today they have graduated a dime a dozen with absolutely nothing to do, that is an untenable situation.”

Khan assured that the ministry would be implementing a programme to employ these graduates by training them in leadership positions. He also called on the energy companies to begin a recruitment drive for young professionals.

FirstCaribbean weighs NYSE listing

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 22:32

FirstCaribbean International bank and its shareholders are expected to decide later this month whether or not to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Noting that no determination has been made to proceed with the NYSE listing, general counsel and corporate secretary Brian Clarke, in the director’s report, said, “The company and the company’s majority shareholder CIBC Investments (Cayman) Ltd and its parent company, Canadian Imperial bank of Commerce (CIBC), are evaluating a possible public sale of a portion of their common shares in the company on the NYSE.

“Such a transaction would involve the company’s registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the listing of the common shares to be sold on the NYSE. No determination has yet been made as to whether or not the NYSE listing will occur.”

However, if the decision is made to proceed to list on the NYSE, he said it is proposed “the company’s common shares be de-listed from the TTSE.”

“The company has determined that it will be important to de-list the company’s common shares from the TTSE in connection with the NYSE listing in order to improve market efficiencies and minimise the risk of inconsistent trading prices for the company’s common shares,” Clarke said.

If the decision is made to de-list from the TTSE the implications include: common shares of the company held in the T&T Central Securities Depository would be transferred to the Barbados Central Securities Depository, shareholders in T&T would no longer be able to trade the company’s common shares on the TTSE and lastly, shareholders would be able to trade their common shares on the International Securities Market of the Barbados Stock Exchange.

“If the company’s shareholders approve the TTSE de-listing and the board of directors decides to proceed with the NYSE listing and the related TTSE de-listing, the TTSE de-listing will remain subject to approval by the TTSE and the T&T Securities and Exchange Commission,” he explained.

Francis Fashion defends dismissals

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 00:21

Cadel Trading Ltd, which owns and operates Francis Fashion, is defending its decision to terminate the contracts of 22 workers.

In a statement on the decision, the company said the workers agreed in January 2018 to work an extra hour Monday to Thursday each week until further notice to clear a backlog of containers and signed acknowledging receipt of the memorandum on this.

However, the company said of March 5, 2018, the workers refused to work for the extra hour, which they were being paid for, and advised they were contracted to work until 5 pm. The company said the workers were told that at the time of their employment that they would be required to work extra hours to facilitate receiving and unloading of containers and this was agreed to by them.

The company said workers still decided to leave the Trincity compound without working the extra hour, although management told them their refusal “was in breach of their contract of employment and could result in disciplinary action.”

On March 6 and 7, the company said workers gathered outside the compound and refused to report for work and to have a meeting on the issue, despite approaches by management for them to return to work and discuss the impasse.

“The management of the company carefully considered the actions of the 22 workers from Monday 5th March to Wednesday 7th March 2018 and came to the view that these said workers had by their actions breached the contract of employment and in so doing had caused damage to the company,” the release said.

The company said it felt it had met its obligation as a responsible corporate citizen in providing numerous opportunities for the workers to report for duty and to meet, but these were rejected.

TTNGL gains $0.13

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 00:19

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 426,403 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $9,567,595.33. FirstCaribbean International Bank Ltd was the volume leader with 86,000 shares changing hands for a value of $799,853.95, followed by NCB Financial Group Ltd with a volume of 76,228 shares being traded for $497,748.84. ANSA McAL Ltd contributed 74,476 shares with a value of $4,468,955.00, while JMMB Group Ltd added 62,448 shares valued at $123,022.56.

Trinidad and Tobago NGL Ltd registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.13 to end the day at $27.86. Conversely, ANSA McAL Ltd registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.04 to close at $60.01.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 16,760 shares valued at $336,885.54. Clico Investment Fund remained at $20.10. Bourse Brazil Latin Fund remained at $8.40. Calypso Macro Index Fund remained at $20.48. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Development Fund remained at $0.67. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Ltd SCC - Value Fund remained at $1.70. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund remained at $3.05.

The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. Mora Ven Holdings Ltd remained at $14.49.

Rowley speaks today at energy conference

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 00:15

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to deliver the feature address at an energy conference hosted by the Ministry of Energy at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain, this morning.

The conference, themed “Our Oil, Our Gas, Our Future, Spotlight on Our Energy,” is set for a 9 am start..

Energy leaders across the sector as well as international experts are expected to be in attendance to discuss, “the current and future impact of the energy sector on the lives of citizens.”

The conference comes even as the sector continues to struggle in various areas, including Petrotrin’s financial woes and its future, the ongoing Juniper and Angelin gas projects and Guyana and Suriname as potential investment areas.

T&T NGL records $233.7m profit

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 22:35

The T&T NGL Limited reported $233.7 million in profit after tax for the period ended December 31, 2017, a 30 per cent increase compared to 2016, when $179.6 million was reported.

Looking at other aspects of its financial performance, TTNGL closed the period with $311 million in cash and cash equivalents. Total assets were valued at $3.4 billion and earnings Per Share amounted to $1.51 for the period.

In a statement, chairman Gerry Brooks said, “The share of profit from TTNGL’s investment in its underlying asset, PPGPL, improved by 32 per cent to $216.6 million in 2017.”

Addressing the issue of low supply of gas, Brooks said the continued challenge of lower natural gas volumes to Point Lisas was mitigated by increased Natural Gas Liquids content in the gas stream and improved Mont Belvieu product prices.

“Product prices continued on their upward trajectory and were 24.3 per cent higher than those in 2016.”

On the issue of the Additional Public Offering and its continued impact on the company’s performance, Brooks said divestment was “successful” and can serve as a blueprint for other potential divestment.

In total, the company is expected to pay out a final dividend of $1.50 for 2017. Shareholders are expected to enjoy a dividend yield or dividend expressed as a percentage of a current share price of 5.66 per cent, which places it at the top tier of dividend yield securities.

TTNGL is the company set up by Government to hold the 39 per cent of Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd, acquired by state-owned National Gas Company (NGC) from US oil major Conoco Phillip in August 2013.