Trinidad e Tobago

Green Thumb Growers

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 31 min fa

Meet Lesley-Ann Bernard, owner of Green Thumb Growers, an agri-business based in Diamond Vale, Diego Martin that is bringing super greens and micro greens to TT. Bernard's produce ranges from kale and swiss chard, to lettuce, arugula and microgreens – which are the shoots of salad vegetables picked just after the first leaves have developed. Bernard started the business about three years ago as a hobby and now runs it full time. Her journey began with an aquaponics system, which uses waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic creatures to supply the nutrients for plants grown hydroponically. The plants in turn purify the water. She had been doing research into aquaponic systems for a while and decided to try koi as her fish of choice versus the more commonly used tilapia. When she researched the cost factors of rearing tilapia, she realised that she would have out priced herself in the produce market, as the costs were quite high. [caption id="attachment_771327" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Lesley-Ann Bernard, owner of Green Thumb Growers, tends to her produce. Photo by Antony Scully[/caption] For Bernard, this was a retirement plan. Her family owned land in Cumuto that wasn’t really being used, and she decided that agriculture was an option. “I just kind of dabbled in it. Then I started posting pictures of the produce on social media and people started to message me saying they wanted produce that was pesticide-safe and that’s how it was all born.” Things changed for Bernard in January when she learned of her impending retrenchment from her job at an advertising agency. “I said I’m already doing this, so let’s monetise it and scale it accordingly and jump into it full time.” She’s glad she got the push. “When you look back on it, you may feel that the rug is being pulled out from under you. You ask what are you going to do. The security of a stable income every month is of course a lovely thing. But then when you get too comfortable you find the universe pushes you in a direction that makes you uncomfortable so you can grow.” She admits if her retrenchment hadn’t happened she wouldn’t have been able to invest all of this time into her business and actually expand the way it has. “I’m at a point right now where I can’t meet my orders 100 per cent, so it is just a matter of continuing to grow and grow.” [caption id="attachment_771326" align="alignnone" width="720"] Rainbow swiss chard. Photo courtesy Green Thumb Growers Facebook Page[/caption] There are two sides to the business that is Green Thumb Growers. The super greens and leafy greens which have a weekly turnover and then the microgreens, which are grown indoors and take up to seven or eight days to harvest. Bernard supplies her produce mainly by delivery as far as south Trinidad and she also has one retail spot – Bodega in the West Hills Development in Petit Valley, not too far from her base. “The reason I reached out to Bodega is I wanted to see what the uptake would be in a retail outlet. And it was good.” But it is all about managing her deliveries and adding retail outlets bit by bit. “Microgreens is not yet a big thing in Trinidad. You’ll get it at a fancy restaurant at a particular price point but to say someone is actually purchasing a container of microgreens just to eat or have a salad, it is still new.” That novelty factor was one of the reasons she chose microgreens. “It’s not something that is readily available everywhere, so it gives me a competitive advantage. Also because of the turnover time, it’s quick and easy and it’s indoors. I don’t have to add any fertiliser or nutrients to it. It’s simply water." Bernard was introduced to microgreens and super greens, such as swiss chard, when she lived in Canada. “I didn’t want to do any mass market items. I wanted to do more gourmet type stuff and be unique.” [caption id="attachment_771325" align="alignnone" width="720"] Packaged greens by GreenThumb Growers on the shelves at Bodega in West Hills Development. Photo courtesy Green Thumb Growers Facebook Page[/caption] Bernard also attributes her success on her foray into business before – she ran a media monitoring company – and her career in advertising. “It has certainly helped with the marketing and branding. I think that helps me make the product even more attractive. We are accustomed getting produce in a plastic bag and I try to stay away from that type of single use plastic that’s why I use brown paper bags. I use a stamp and I stamp my bags instead of using stickers. But definitely the branding and understanding of how to target and tap into my audience comes from my skill sets in advertising and media." Her research skills help as well. “What you find happening with farms in Trinidad is they would have the farming side of the business down but then they have no-one to sell their product to, because they haven’t done the research, or they don’t know how to write a business plan. I’ve been fortunate that I have the business acumen going into this.” And her quest for knowledge is on-going. [caption id="attachment_771322" align="alignnone" width="960"] An idea of how to use greens in innovative ways: a bagel, cream cheese and arugula sandwich. Photo courtesy Green Thumb Growers Facebook Page[/caption] “I believe knowledge is key to everything. So even though you may do something and you understand the practicality of it, the actual information is tied together when you do a course and get the academic information.” Bernard attends free courses hosted monthly by the Ministry of Agriculture which take place at various locations in central and south Trinidad. She again used her research skills and went to the ministry’s website and saw that the information is all there. She also went on to share the information on her social media channels so that others can take advantage of the free courses. After attending a few, Bernard sees agriculture as gaining some sort of popularity as the classes were always well-attended. “There are a lot of women at these courses. And then you have some very young people and you have the retirees. You have traditional farmers and then people who have absolutely no experience who just want to start a home garden. It’s a very interesting mix. The information is definitely out there.” [caption id="attachment_771319" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Lesley Bernard and her daughter, Kaitlyn tending to their crops.[/caption] As for the big wins since her journey began, one definitely has been getting her teenage daughter, Kaitlyn, involved. “(It’s been great) getting my daughter involved and actually seeing her excited and wanting to be a part of it. We’ve done a few health fairs and pop ups and she basically runs the show.” So what’s next for Green Thumb Growers? It’s all about expanding. Bernard is involved in a project right now with the Cropper Foundation, the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) and the ministry which involves training on pesticides and, ultimately, will result in the testing of produce from various farmers by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, so that produce can be certified as pesticide-safe. Massy Stores has agreed to stock the supply in two of its stores. Namdevco will do the packaging and it will be available to the public. “So Trinidad is on the cusp of finally having some sort of certification.” [caption id="attachment_771320" align="alignnone" width="768"] Lettuce grown by Lesley-Ann Bernard using aquaponics.[/caption] Bernard is well on her way but what’s her advice for those contemplating getting into agriculture? “Grow what you like first. Grow what you like to eat and make sure you understand the hours that are needed.”  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

The green age

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 37 min fa

Agriculture is an industry that is being explored as a way to diversify our economy here in TT and the list of companies that supply innovative goods and services for this sector is certainly growing. One such firm is Green Age Farms, based in Freeport, which provides everything needed to start a farm, regardless of size, while using the latest agri-technology. Green Age Farms’ main expertise falls within the area of vertical hydroponic farming, which is highly space and water efficient. The combination of hydroponics, which is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil, and vertical farming, which is growing produce in vertically stacked layers, results in an innovative solution for the home gardener all the way to the large commercial farmer. So how did husband and wife team, Faariah Khan-Singh and Kevin Singh, both process engineers, happen on a venture such as Green Age? “We started hydroponics as a means to earn an additional income by growing and supplying produce. We tried a lot of different types of hydroponics systems but none of them provided what we needed. They used too much space, were tedious to set up and required a lot of time for monitoring and adjusting,” recalled Khan-Singh. [caption id="attachment_771310" align="alignnone" width="720"] The Green Age agriculture system in use. Photo courtesy Green Age Farms Facebook Page[/caption] They researched many different options before eventually deciding to go with the Mr Stacky vertical hydroponics system. “We loved it and thought that people would love it as well,” she added. They knew there was a need for an all-round service that made it easy for people to get started and succeed at hydroponics, while providing innovative and sustainable solutions for the more experienced hydroponic farmers. “We were able to secure the distributorship for the Mr Stacky and Spring Pots brands. With the backing from these international manufacturers, we were able to further promote our brand and systems.” [caption id="attachment_771309" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Example of Mr Stacky system by Green Age Farms. Photo courtesy Green Age Farms[/caption] One of the major challenges they’ve faced since launching the brand is introducing the concept to the local market. “Since our system was completely different to the more conventional hydroponic methods that were used locally and traditionally in farming, it was important to build an awareness for our product and service and highlight the advantages using our systems.” But now that the brand is fully launched and operational, Green Age lets their customers speak for them. “We continue to get a lot of referrals from customers who used our system.” The popularity of the system was not only due to its general ease of use but also as a result of a demo system that Green Age made available to illustrate to potential customers the easy installation and low maintenance levels. These demos, Khan-Singh said, show “the high efficiencies of the system in terms of space, nutrients and power that resulted in low operating costs with high use.” [caption id="attachment_771312" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Tomatoes grown using the the Green Age Farms agriculture system. Photo courtesy Green Age Farms Facebook Page[/caption] Green Age now has several customers who use their systems for home gardens – many of whom are new to gardening in general, much less hydroponics. “They were really impressed and happy that they were able to successfully use the systems to provide high quality produce for their family and also drastically cut down on their market bill. They were so happy with the results that some even expanded on a commercial scale.” One of the recent companies to engage Green Farm is Hyatt Regency. “We were really excited about the farm to table project at Hyatt. We were actually approached by them to work on this project together using our systems. They were looking for a sustainable way of growing their own fresh produce to supply the hotel’s needs,” said Khan-Singh. “Within three weeks, after the system was set up, they were already harvesting fresh produce. They harvested six different types of lettuce, including romaine lettuce, and continue to harvest other produce.” Green Age also provided training to the staff at the Hyatt, and they have been able to successfully operate their system. [caption id="attachment_771312" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Tomatoes grown using the the Green Age Farms agriculture system. Photo courtesy Green Age Farms Facebook Page[/caption] “We’ve got a lot of great feedback from the Hyatt on how easy the system is to operate, and the high quality and yield of the produce grown. They also got great feedback for their guests who were very impressed with the produce used from the garden.” Green Age also has a couple of clients with catering businesses, who produce fresh ingredients for their meals, as well as some produce delivery businesses, who supply customers directly with fresh produce. “We also have a lot of clients using our systems to supply supermarkets and restaurants and to homes (who want to) supply healthy fresh produce for their families,” said Khan-Singh. [caption id="attachment_771311" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Beans grown using the the Green Age Farms agriculture system. Photo courtesy Green Age Farms Facebook Page[/caption] The Ministry of Agriculture has also used Green Age’s vertical systems as a demo at their site. It is currently set up at their Aquaculture Unit in Valsayn and is used as part of their training initiatives. “We have also spoken to the Agricultural Development Bank, which is on board with providing financing for any of our systems.” Green Age’s goal is to encourage more people to grow their own food, whether it be for home use or commercial use. “We believe that this can greatly improve the level of food security within TT and help reduce the food import bill and promote healthier lifestyles.”  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Eight steps to improve your employability

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 37 min fa

“Employers are demanding that workers for the 21st century must possess the knowledge, technical skills, and “soft-skills” to function effectively and be competitive in the workplace. To attain this level of competitiveness, workers must be lifelong learners who will continue to increase their knowledge and update their skills, for upward mobility in the workplace.” www.ilo.org/caribbean Unemployment continues to be one of the biggest issues facing many countries today, with governments devoting countless resources towards policies and initiatives aimed at meeting the employment demands of their ever-increasing populations. The Caribbean is no exception. Despite a small drop in average unemployment rates in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past year, slow economic growth coupled with uncertainty around future trends and rising youth unemployment continue to give some cause for concern. (ILO World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2019) Thousands of students across the Caribbean graduate from universities and other tertiary education institutions annually and are facing the reality that being qualified is simply not enough and that additional skills may be needed to increase chances of sustainable employability in such a competitive and challenging environment. Although finance professionals are in demand, competition for job vacancies and internships remains fierce. In turn, this has contributed to a rise in employer expectations who are increasingly looking for candidates who not only stand out but can also prove they understand what it takes to succeed in the workplace. So what exactly are finance sector employers looking for? And how can you ensure that you are at the top of the list? Here are eight skills that improve employability, together with tips on how to demonstrate them. Initiative Managers will expect you to work largely unsupervised on a day-to-day basis, so they need to know you can make responsible decisions on your own that result in a positive outcome. One of the best demonstrations of "taking the initiative" is relevant training and work experience. Undertaking roles or placements, and courses in both core technical subjects and some of the broader skills listed below, provides evidence of your ability to define the requirements of tasks and implement them successfully. Commercial acumen Responsible decision-making demands strong commercial acumen, which describes your ability to understand business situations and apply your expertise accordingly. Alongside the technical know-how gained through your core qualifications, you will need to gather a much broader range of relevant knowledge. Your ability to do this can be demonstrated in interviews by researching the wider industry that your potential employer is in, how current affairs affect it, and any other relevant influences and facts. Professionalism Employers want evidence that you can deliver projects and tasks reliably, ethically and in a way that adds value to their organisation. The other skills in this article all contribute to professionalism, as do personal standards such as time-keeping, appearance and your ability to treat colleagues with respect. Innovation Adding value to an organisation tends to come through seeing new ways to undertake tasks or solve problems. Therefore, look for ways to demonstrate your ability to bring something new to the employer without undermining the fundamental requirements of the profession. Rather than arriving at an interview with speculative ideas that might be off the mark, demonstrate how you were able to add value to something you undertook in the past, particularly in a work role or placement. Project management Every task you undertake will have some form of deadline. This might be preparing a document for a weekly meeting, delivering a project to a specific timeframe, or achieving a major initiative in key milestones. Employers will value your ability to plan workloads to meet timescales, and respond to challenging deadlines when the need arises – even if it sometimes means working outside regularly scheduled business hours. Communication and presentation Written and oral communication skills are as fundamental to employability as technical qualifications. Naturally, this means paying close attention to the wording of your CV, covering letter and any mock assignments you are asked to prepare. Interviews give employers the chance to assess your presentation skills, so prepare well and rehearse as much as possible. For example, undertake research about common interview questions, and craft answers that demonstrate a range of employability skills without sounding forced. It’s a good idea to find a relevant mentor to help, even if it’s just to provide feedback on what you have prepared. Teamwork The ability to work well with colleagues is paramount, and being able to reference team-working examples from work roles or placements will help to demonstrate this. Other activities can also contribute, such as participation in team sports. Acting as a team captain can be particularly appealing to employers as it demonstrates leadership potential for a later point in your career. Employers willing to invest in career development will be looking for candidates that can grow with their organisation. Networking Throughout your career, the majority of opportunities will come through relationships with others, making the ability to network an important skill to have. Employment fairs, business events and interviews are all opportunities to expand your network of contacts, and there are many advice websites on how to network effectively. Most important is to remember who you meet. A good tip is to write down a memorable fact about the person on the back of their business card or in a notebook. Where to get started? Join job board communities like ACCA Careers, volunteer, you can pick up great teamwork and other soft skills that way and stay up to date by reading the business news, joining relevant industry and professional groups on LinkedIn and getting involved with discussions.

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Agri minister celebrates Chaconia, flamingoes

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 42 min fa

Story and photos by Angelo Marcelle On June 1, the Eastern Horticultural Club's opened its two-day plant and garden show, My Garden, My Sanctuary, at The Courtyard, Trinity College East, Trincity. Even before its 10 am start time, people waited patiently to purchase from the more than 60 vendors on site with a variety of soils, plants, plant pots, fertilisers and garden accessories. [caption id="attachment_771296" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Anisha Cuffy-Persad, right, sells an Angelino plant to a customer, at the Eastern Horticultural Club’s plant and garden show, Trinity College East, Trincity. Photo by Angelo Marcelle[/caption] From gerberas to bromeliad, orchids to excoecaria cochinchinensis, citrus, fruits, seasonings and herbs, the show was a plant lover's heaven. Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat was in attendance and again celebrated the .double Chaconia replacing the single Chaconia as the national flower. [caption id="attachment_771299" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Plant lovers view the wide variety at the Eastern Horticultural Club’s plant and garden show. Photo by Angelo Marcelle[/caption] “Recently in Senate we approved the Bill that would re-designate the national flower to the double Chaconia, which is unique to Trinidad and Tobago. It has been a 60-year debate,” he shared with Business Day. The minister also spoke of the importance of wildlife and flora, singling out improvements at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. There has been an increase in the flamingo population at the sanctuary which, he explained, is the result of stringent protection measures. [caption id="attachment_771294" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A trolley of plants. Photo by Angelo Marcelle[/caption] “Trinidadians and Tobagonians love their plants and their flowers and I am trying to get them to love animals and birds. We have seen it (flamingo), grow from 35, two years ago, to 260. The ministry would be bringing two experts.... one is an expert on disaster management for livestock and the other’s expertise is on the flamingo.” The avian expert will also help to develop an area of the sanctuary to attract more flamingoes and sustain those already there. [caption id="attachment_771295" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Centeno's Farmer Training Centre agricultural officer Merle Seedial, looks for fungus on a catus at a free plant clinic, at the Eastern Horticultural Club’s plant and garden show. Photo by Angelo Marcelle[/caption] The minister said the flamingo comes from regions that have harsh dry seasons, and mainly migrate from Venezuela.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Business Day Editorial: Opening up the Central Bank

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 42 min fa

It is admirable that Government has taken steps to increase transparency and accountability with regards to the Central Bank.

Under Section 56 (1) of the Central Bank Act, the bank’s officers are exempt from sharing any information with the public arising from the course of their work.

As such, under the Freedom of Information (Exemption) (No 2) Order, the bank is not obligated to give information about its operations. These new amendments to the Section 56, will however, now make it mandatory for the bank to release information on the salaries and terms and conditions of the employment of the Central Bank Governor, deputy governors, directors, officers and employees of the bank; the organisational structure; current and former employees, the number of filled or vacant positions at the bank and “such other matters relating to the employment of staff as the minister thinks fit.” These requests from the minister can also relate to periods before the amendments are enacted.

In his argument to the Senate for the Miscellaneous Provisions (Tax Amnesty, Pensions, Freedom of Information, National Insurance, Central Bank and Non-Profit Organisations) Bill, Finance Minister Colm Imbert pointed out that the “all” in the Central Bank Act means that even if it wanted to, the bank could not share any information with those requesting disclosure.

“Why would anybody argue against the taxpayers of this country having the right to know what is being done with their money that is being provided to the Central Bank by way of payment of salaries to officers of the bank?” Imbert told the Senate, insisting that the amendments do not allow for any extraordinary overreach.

Ironically, the closest TT has come to such information being shared was when former governor Jwala Rambarran in December 2015 announced the names of the biggest users of foreign exchange in the country. He was immediately censured and a few months later, sacked by the Government citing Section 56.

As much as the public will appreciate Government’s attempt to lift part of the veil on the bank, we must also question the objective. This piece of legislation that in Clause 9 would ostensibly allow for greater transparency in the bank, followed the now rescinded Clause 7, an amendment to the FOIA that was widely condemned as an attempt to control the flow of information to the public.

There have been several criticisms of the amendment to a monolithic entity like the Central Bank, but Imbert has dismissed them all in favour of the public interest.

But is it really the public interest? In his closing statements in the House of Representatives on Friday, Imbert suggested that there were people in the bank, former governors, whose interests would be upended if this information was made public. A former governor, for example, he said, claimed $10 million for 17 months of work. This amendment would solve that issue. The Express on Sunday reported that the individual in question was Rambarran.

One would therefore hope the minister did not bring forth a bill intent on settling a personal vendetta, although he drew examples from other countries where at least some aspects of central banking is overseen by ministers of finance or allowed via freedom of information legislation.

Regardless, the Finance Minister has allowed a small victory for the people to access information in their interest. Once he has requested the information and it is in his possession, it will have become public information, accessible via the FOIA.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Change old labour laws, transform workers lives

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 42 min fa

kmmpub@gmail.com This Labour Day, the bedraggled workers trudging behind sodden signs have little cause to sing or celebrate. The numbers tell the human toll of their daily existence. We rank dead last in the world for co-operation in labour-employer relations: 140 out of 140 countries. Our hiring and firing practices put us at 106th place, and the flexibility of our wage determination at a rosy 101st place, according to the 2018 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Too many workers are trapped in dead-end jobs and can’t see any opportunities. Our freedom and our ability to demand effective representation is constrained by what everyone from labour leaders to the chambers of commerce says are antiquated and unjust laws. Many of us join unions to put ourselves in a better negotiating position – for better pay, for example. But we cannot choose by whom we are represented. It is now illegal for any unionised employer to negotiate with a union or person that the State has not recognised as the employer’s majority union. If you want to switch your union, you cannot. If you want to represent yourself, you cannot. Many unions have committed leaders. But the reality is that more than a few are ineffective and unaccountable to their members. If we don’t feel effectively represented by our union, we should be able to negotiate on our own behalf; switch to or form another union that we think can better represent us. That is our very right to freedom of association, enshrined since 1948 by the Convention of the International Labour Organisation. We should demand this right from the government. We deserve the best representation possible. Too many of us are still denied this. Not by any one person, but by dusty old laws. Even where a union has practically ceased to operate, it still holds the status of the “recognised majority union.” Many workers are forcibly bound to these zombie unions by existing legislation. They are often bound to old, irrelevant agreements. This is good for no one: not workers, not labour leaders and not employers, all of whom are trapped in a state of uncertainty. That uncertainty is fatal to growth. How do you know if you can afford a new house if you don’t know what your wages will be? This uncertainty doesn’t just affect workers. How can your employer know whether to invest in new equipment or develop a new product, if they don’t know what their wage costs will be? The joint chambers and their lead representative – industry reformer Teresa White of ANSA – all agree. These principles of freedom and equity must extend to the Industrial Court. For years, members like its president Deborah Thomas-Felix have fought admirably in the cause of social justice. But their hands are tied to redress the many injustices faced by individuals. That is because a non-unionised individual has no recourse to justice before the Industrial Court. Their only hope is the High Court- out of reach for most of us. We should empower and expand the authority of the Industrial Court to preside over cases brought by individuals – not just unions. Our society will only be truly equitable when our workers and the most vulnerable have access to the broadest possible justice. That includes the right of all parties to fully appeal Industrial Court judgements, which outdated laws still prevent. Little wonder the 2018 Doing Business Index ranks TT in 174th place out of 190 countries in contract enforcement – defined as the time and cost to resolve a commercial dispute, as well as the quality of judicial processes. The current law does not even permit the court to order legal costs in the case of withdrawn claims (other than in “exceptional cases”). That means that any party can weaponise the law with impunity. Just sue someone in the Industrial Court, and later withdraw it. You will cost them hefty legal fees and lost time. And they have no redress. In the almost ten years between 2006 and 2015, one in five cases was withdrawn. And between 2010 and 2015, the number of cases introduced only to be withdrawn rose by 65 per cent. We must empower the court to award costs and prevent this exploitation of the justice system. As last week’s AmCham tech conference made abundantly clear, an unprecedented wave of automation and artificial intelligence is reshaping the world of work. It is creating tremendous growth. By restoring freedom and justice to workers, we can ensure that this growth casts a wide net and is equitable to boot. Kiran Mathur Mohammed is a social entrepreneur, economist and businessman. He is a former banker, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Piranha attacks e-waste

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 46 min fa

SEVERAL major companies have begun to realise the importance of retrieving and recycling waste, even more so as the threat of pollution and its effects have prompted organisations worldwide – both private and public – to take action. But the ever-increasing popularity of recycling – particularly recycling plastic – has led these organisations to only scratch the surface of the types of waste that continue to pollute our country, and by extension our planet. One such type of waste is electronic waste, or e-waste. E-waste items include all obsolete or outdated computers, TVs, cell phones, printers, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and thousands of other items that may have a computer chip, magnetic strip or electronic cord. E-waste also includes several items that were called “white waste” – any appliance that would have traditionally been painted white, like fridges, washing machines and microwaves. E-waste is considered by many to be one of the faster growing solid waste streams in the world, as the global tech revolution consistently fuels the public’s need for new and better technology, leading people to discard any old or obsolete electronic items they may own. [caption id="attachment_771285" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Some of the e-waste collected by Piranha International. Photo courtesy Pirhana International[/caption] Piranha International, a waste management company that has been in operation since 2003, has taken up the mantle against this particular form of waste, but directors of the company believe not enough is being done in the fight against e-waste. Piranha directors, Nadine Lakatoo, and Anthony Brian Allum called for more education and participation in the proper disposal of e-waste as they believe the effects of improper disposal could have a worse and more immediate effect on TT citizens than plastic. But unlike plastic, there is no champion for the e-waste cause. “Just like everything else, electronic waste has taken a back seat to plastic which is more visible and easier to recognise because it is ‘sexier,’” Allum said in a Business Day interview with the directors at their office in California, Couva recently. “(With plastic) you could do a beach clean-up and get attention.” The threat of e-waste is more imminent and immediate than that of plastic, Piranha said. E-waste contains components, which if not disposed of properly can get into water systems and even in the air, and cause or exacerbate ailments like asthma or cancer. Some of the components found in most electronic items include lead, mercury, arsenic, flame retardants, cadmium and cobalt.” [caption id="attachment_771284" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Some of the e-waste collected by Piranha International. Photo courtesy Pirhana International[/caption] Exposure to any of these components can lead to an array of ailments including brain, kidney and bone density damage, hair loss, headaches, reproductive harm, suppression of the immune system and cancer. Extensive exposure to some of these components could also kill you. On May 26, Piranha teamed up with Massy stores in a “day of caring,” where they made themselves available to the public in Maraval and Gulf View and took in all the waste brought in to them. Piranha collected 382 items, including ballasts, chargers, cellphones, laptops, scanners, VHS cassettes, cassette rewinders and central processing units (CPUs) for computers. Within that, they recovered close to 12 kilogrammes of harmful materials. Allum said Massy invited the company to partner in in the day of caring, believing the two companies would make a good pairing in the recycling drive. Because of the response, Piranha directors are making plans to have regular e-waste drives, where people can bring their items to a certified handler of these waste materials, for safe and proper disposal. “People know that they cannot just throw their computers and other electric items in the garbage, but still they do not know exactly what to do with their e-waste.” Lakatoo said. “That is why we need education.” Piranha said one of the more important things people should know about e-waste is how important it is to keep it out of landfills and dump sites. Lakatoo explained that even though there is a clay lining at the bottom of our dump sites in Beetham Gardens, Guanapo Heights and Forres Park, that lining may not be enough to keep harmful chemicals from leaking into the soil and getting into the water systems, or from being burned, release toxic fumes in the air. According to Piranha, companies who handle this particular type of waste also have to be certified and their employees qualified to take care of these materials properly. Allum told Business Day while the Solid Waste Management Co Ltd (SWMCOL), which operates the country’s landfills, has banned e-waste, security is lax in the dumps that any material can get in without SWMCOL’s knowledge. “A lot of people do not know that e-waste is a problem and those who do know, there is nothing to stop them from dumping it in the landfill because it is not protected,” Allum said. He added that even when people want to discard e-waste, there are no free e-waste disposal companies in the country, neither is there any legislation in place specific to the handling of e-waste. Both Allum and Lakatoo advised that companies and individuals use their purchasing power to ensure that e-waste is handled properly. Both companies and individuals should be able to return their e-waste to the source – the company they bought the item from – and have them gather and make arrangements for proper disposal. “Companies recognise and will respond to customers trends. What we are seeing today is a more environmentally conscious consumer. With that in mind, any company would be foolish not to get on the pulse of that. This is new territory for people,” Allum said. At US electronics chain Best Buy, there’s a container where you can throw away your old electronics. “If it could happen there, it could happen here.” People should also make sure that whoever they approach to handle their e-waste is qualified and certified to do so. There are several internationally-recognised certificates, Piranha said, but the most important locally was a certificate of environmental clearance because no company should be operating without one. “Ask your waste disposal provider if they are certified. Ask them where their waste ends up, and if they can provide you with those details. Things like that should be no secret,” Allum said.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

TT not too late

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 46 min fa

Efficiency and conservation must become TT's watchwords. Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte made this call as he addressed the Energy Chamber's 2019 Renewable Energy Conference, Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's, last Monday. He opined that these are two words which have not been assimilated "into our psyche and consciousness." Because of this, Le Hunte said, "They do not drive our behaviour." Many countries have moved ahead of TT in energy conservation, he observed, such as India which has a building code that mandates all new buildings must have 25 per cent energy savings to be compliant. The United States, China and Australia also have fiscal mechanisms to encourage energy efficiency activities, he noted. Let Hunte attributed TT being "late to the dance" on energy conservation because of its "God-given natural resources and apathy on our part." Explaining, he said, since the 1970s, TT's focus has been on increasing demand for natural gas for the population's benefit. One of the results was TT being among the first countries to fuel its electricity production only on natural gas. However, several factors, including depleting natural gas reserves, has caused TT to reach an inflection point where the country must "shift our focus to conservation and sustainable use of these resources." Le Hunte said his ministry is talking with several multi-lateral agencies to initiate projects geared towards greater energy efficiency and conservation. One of these involves the retrofitting of a government building with energy saving light bulbs. Le Hunte said TTEC is also involved in energy conservation by switching older lights on the national grid with LED lighting. The Arima Promenade and the Manzanilla/Mayaro Road are among the places where this has happened. Le Hunte said if ten per cent of the natural gas TT uses is conserved, TTEC would save $100 million per annum, and should the gas be sold on the international market, the country could earn an additional $300 million. Cabinet has appointed a committee to develop a national energy conservation and energy efficiency action plan which, Le Hunte said, has three months to complete its work. This was welcome news for Energy Chamber president and CEO Dr Thackwray Driver, who. In his address, said the increased interest in renewable energy has as much to do with business as it does with environmental conservation. He too observed that since the 1970s to 2010, the energy industry was about creating increasing demand to allow TT to monetise its natural gas. But the constrained gas setting TT now finds itself in, Driver said, means every molecule of natural gas has to be used wisely as opposed to maximisation. He explained this meant finding alternative ways to generate the energy "we need to run our economy." Driver recalled that the chamber launched its energy efficiency declaration, earlier this year, which more than 50 companies signed, committing themselves to improving energy use in their operations and to report on the changes they have made. Like the minister, Driver felt that while TT lags behind the rest of the Caribbean in energy conservation, "we have the potential to advance quickly, if we make the right choices."

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

UTC focuses on long-term value

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 51 min fa

The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) recorded $269 million in net changes in fair value in the first quarter of 2019 – a huge leap from the $154 million hit they took for the same period last year. But, executive director Nigel Edwards emphasises, unitholders shouldn’t be overzealous when they see these upswings, nor should they despair when the trend is down. “We at the UTC are far more interested in the long term value created than the fact our stock moves up or down in a given day or a given month. So what you will see coming forward in our financials, you will see changes in net fair value of our securities and we want to make sure that unit holders are aware those changes will come and what they mean and understand that because we have an interest in long term investment performance that it’s okay for those values to change day-to-day or on a quarter-to-quarter basis because we are looking at more long term value,” Edwards told Business Day last week as he presented the company’s first quarter financials as well as sought to allay any concerns unit holders might have with the corporation’s performance. The seemingly drastic distinctions in performance have to do with the corporation’s adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS 9). UTC, like most financial institutions around the world last year, had to adopt the new accounting measure, which requires assets to be reported at fair value and all changes to be reported in the net income or profit and loss statement, as opposed to the balance sheet, as the UTC had previously done. The reason for these changes was to correct deficiencies that led to the 2008 financial crisis. This restating of income was the reason the corporation recorded a $30 million loss last year for the first time in its 37-year history. Edwards, however, wants to assure clients that nothing has fundamentally changed in the way the fund is being managed. “The message is equally – don’t be alarmed if you see a loss in that column but also don’t be overly excited if you see a gain. We really are managing to ensure that our unit holders get consistent stable value over time. Even the way you interpret a loss is what we need people to understand.” The corporation’s goal then, is to ensure unitholders are getting value. The corporation also has $1.4 billion in reserves, in addition to the reserves factored into each of its funds to buffer all claims. “We’ve taken a decision that we are not interested in growing those reserves any further. That already provides a robust framework to secure all our unitholders. The UTC was incorporated in 1981 by an Act of Parliament, with a mandate to “foster a culture of saving and investment through education and innovative solutions that allow everyone access to the capital markets.” The aim was to make access to investment opportunities more open and available to the average citizen. Its structure is unique, Edwards notes, in that, whereas other financial institutions have shareholders and are therefore driven by profit in order for shareholders to get value, the UTC has other obligations – namely ensuring their unitholders are the ones who see the benefits. “I think unitholders were more interested in what we did for them as opposed to the corporation making a loss. We moved from $197 million in distributions in 2017 to $249m in 2018, and I think that was pretty satisfying to them. A $52m increase in distribution which is where they get their value so that is significant to them. We could have just as easily said we were going to distribute less money to our unitholders and the corporation would have made a profit but the unitholders would not have been $50m richer than they are today.” It’s a similar situation for the first quarter of 2019. Distributions increased to $42.6 million compared to $41.4 million in the same period. “In any given period if we wanted to we could increase the net income of the corporation by reducing the amount of the distribution. The question we have to ask is ultimately what is in the best interest of the unit holder.”

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

How not to be afraid of fear

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 54 min fa

Question: Dear AFETT, I am starting my dream job next week as regional head of a huge multinational company. I am so afraid that I may not be good enough and that I may fail. Can you give me any advice? I have never been this afraid of anything in my life. Thanks! Fear Elise Dear Fear Elise, While conducting research for his book Make Change Work for You, business strategist Scott Steinberg surveyed a wide range of business leaders and found that the key to success may be overcoming, and even using, your fears. The most important ideas that his research revealed were: “Fear is the biggest obstacle to getting ahead in the workplace There are seven different kinds of fears that commonly keep people from succeeding Taking more risks, and even using your fear as a tool, can be the best way to achieve your goals” I believe fear is a perfectly natural part of our human existence. Some of us may be more fearful than others in our endeavours, while some of us attack situations head-on with confidence and self-assurance. I often fall into the former category. Throughout my experiences, I have been afraid of every major decision and every major milestone in my life. I remember when I got accepted to study my LPC in the UK. Even though it was everything that I ever wanted, at every step along the way, I felt like it was never going to happen. I spent many sleepless nights and waking moments of anxiety, thinking of ways that it can all go wrong and I could not make it. But I did. I remember when I was going to be called to the bar. Up until the moment that they called my name, I remember sitting in the crowd and holding my breath waiting for someone to stop the ceremony because clearly there was some type of mistake. But I got called. I remember the day that my daughter was born and the moments right before, all the horror stories and worst-case scenarios kept replaying in my head. “What if she doesn’t make it?” “What if she isn’t healthy?” “What if I am not good enough?” But she was born and I swear everyday she loves me more. And finally, my biggest fear has always been high places. I would never be caught in rollercoasters or in glass elevators unless my eyes were closed. Until one day, on a vacation in Antigua, I decided to try ziplining. The first line for me was the hardest and I needed someone to cross it with me. After that, as the lines progressed and got longer and higher, the little pangs of anxiety grew weaker until all I could think about was how much fun I was having, way up in the sky. My reasons for sharing these stories are multiple. The first, to quote Dante Alighier, is, “Do not be afraid; our fate cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.” With all my milestones and my fears of not accomplishing my goals, they still happened anyway. To think of all the fun and sleep that I could have had if I had only considered that giving into fear does not help in the accomplishment of our destiny; in fact, it hinders life and all its progress. I was so caught up in my own fears and my own securities that I never truly got to accept the gift that was given to me in the accomplishment of my goals. Secondly, we are often most fearful of the things that we understand the least. My fear of giving birth and of motherhood was mainly because I was trying to navigate new waters. But as I understood more of what was happening, I realised that I was no longer crippled by the fear that existed only in my mind. In fact, I was able to handle each challenge and each day with an enthusiasm and motivation that boosted my self-confidence. Thirdly, if all else fails, and you still find yourself at the top of the precipice with shaky knees, call for a mentor or a guide; an expert who has navigated the waters before. You will find that all you need is a push or a quiet whisper in your ear “you can do it” and the rest of the journey would be filled with a self-assurance that you too can touch the sky and glide with the eagles. Finally, understand and appreciate fear for what it is. According to an article on Science of People, “The purpose of fear is to help you protect yourself in a dangerous situation. However, because most things that we’re afraid of today aren’t life-threatening, our body’s response to fear actually does more harm than good.” Fear is a natural response to the mind’s interpretation of an event that has not yet unfolded. It does not determine the outcome so sleep on it, think on it and grab your gears and take the plunge! Above all else, soar with the eagles AFETT AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by Jeane A Warner, research and public advocacy director, AFETT. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at admin.afett@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, meant strictly as advice and guidance, based upon their experience and expertise. In no way are they meant to be legally binding upon AFETT and or its members, servants nor agents.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Angostura cheers to 195 years

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 1 ora 57 min fa

Not every company can boast of celebrating 195 years of existence. That’s why Angostura celebrated the milestone in style, with a gala dinner and charity auction two Saturdays ago at the Hyatt Regency Port of Spain, featuring some of the most illustrious members of TT high society, from businessmen, politicians and of course, local celebrities, including former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam and former Miss World Giselle La Ronde-West. “Angostura brings the spirit of TT to the world,” acting CEO Ian Forbes said in his welcome remarks. [caption id="attachment_771269" align="alignnone" width="848"] Ian Forbes, acting CEO of Angostura, stands next to a bottle of Bunnahabhain 39-year-old single malt whisky.[/caption] The world-famous Angostura bitters, the cornerstone of the empire, was first concocted in 1824 by German-born doctor, Johann Siegert in the town of Angostura in Venezuela. He was chief physician of South American liberator Simon Bolivar’s troops and noticed the men could use some perking up. He developed the secret recipe for his tonic to do just that. As the wars of independence raged on the continent, Siegert moved his family to Trinidad in 1875. From a shop on Charlotte Street, then to George Street and now 20 acres in Laventille, Angostura – and bitters— has become an icon for TT. “Angostura has borne witness to the abolition of slavery, two World Wars and men landing on the moon… There is probably no other company in the Caribbean with our history and reach,” chairman Terrence Bharath said. The company even has a Royal Warrant issued by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the UK (who once toured the factory in the 1950s) — one of the highest stamps of approval a company can achieve. [caption id="attachment_771271" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Angostura chairman Terrence Bharath points to a bottle of Infinity Rum.[/caption] But as iconic as Angostura already is, Bharath sees it being able to achieve more. “I see a company waiting to burst onto a worldwide stage, with opportunities abroad. The focus must be trained on foreign expansion. I have been approached by companies who want to do business with us and I am ready. I am ready to make us more known out there. I am ready to push this company further afield beyond our shores,” he said. Now on to the party. Following the tradition when it turned 190 years old, Angostura hosted a charity auction to raise funds to upgrade the playground at the Princess Elizabeth Home for Handicapped Children. Five years ago, the special edition rum up for auction was Legendary, and it sold for $249,000. This year, two prizes were up for grabs – a one-of-a-kind Bunnahabhain 39-year-old single malt whisky, donated by one of Angostura’s international partners, Artisan Spirits. Next was the Infinity rum created by master blender Carol Homer-Caesar and her all-female team, who created a specialty blend, the oldest of which was 23 years old, which she described as deep gold in colour, sweet and spicy with hints of papaya, guava and butterscotch. Befitting such an exceptional rum, Angostura commissioned Aspery of London, jewellers to the Prince of Wales, to create an exquisite crystal decanter. The whisky went first. Bidding started at $5,000 and bids were welcomed in $1000 minimum increments. While bidding started off initially fierce, as the price climbed, calmed down, forcing Bharath to go on stage to inveigle guests to be more generous, clarifying that each bid went down as a donation rather than the final price, so the winner wouldn’t have to pay the entirety of the final tally. After that things picked up again culminating in a fierce battle between bidders 121 and 258. Eventually, with bids topping out at $102,000, Labib Najjar – number 258— won the first prize of the night. [caption id="attachment_771270" align="alignnone" width="344"] Angostura's Infinity Rum.[/caption] Then, the Infinity. Again, bidding started off at $5,000 and was off to a slow start. Bharath once again appealed for generosity. The bidding started in earnest around the $75,000 mark, and once again, the battle was between 258 and 121, peppered with individuals adding their $1000 hoping for their chance of glory. But the really showdown was between 121 and 258, with 121’s passion capturing the support of the crowd. Eventually, at $110,000, Noreen Ramdhan – number 121 – claimed her prize. As successful as the night was – netting $212,000 for the new playground, it did fall short of the last auction’s total. Speaking briefly to Business Day after, both Najjar and Ramdhan said they definitely plan to drink the goods – and will share with some lucky friends. Did you know? The Angostura Distillery can produce up to 168,000 bottles of alcohol per day, with the potential to produce twice that (up to 300,000). The company manufactures 60,000 bottles of bitters a day. The company has 60,000 casks of aged rum in its warehouse ranging from one to 23 years old.  

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Japanese Cuisine 101 for TTHTI students

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 56 sec fa

MIA HENDERSON STUDENTS of the TT Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) will display their skills in Japanese cuisine before a panel of judges, Japanese ambassador Tatsuo Hirayama and his wife Sachiko Hirayama. The presentation will take place on June 30 at the TTHTI campus , Chaguaramas. The students were given a crash course in preparing authentic Japanese cuisine by the ambassador's resident chef Jinich Osawa when they accepted an invitation extended by the ambassador to his home in St. Claire on June 17. As part of their two-year course at TTHTI, the students were assigned a country on whose cuisine, drinks, and culture they had to make a presentation. The institute contacted the ambassador to answer a few questions on Japan's native cuisine, and Hirayama went a step further by inviting the students to his home for a demonstration by chef Osawa. Tempura and a variety of sushi rolls, made from locally-sourced fish and vegetables, were among some of the traditional Japanese dishes prepared. The students expressed their gratitude for the gesture by the ambassador as it gave them first-hand insight into the complexities of Japanese cuisine. [caption id="attachment_771264" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Students of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute are all smiles at the home of Japanese ambassador, Tatsuo Hirayama.[/caption] The freshness and cleanliness of Japanese food was something that always interested TTHTI chef Virges Lovelace, who said the presentation of the food at the event was insightful for both him and his students. One student shared her belief that “food is art” and said the plating of the dishes was a testament to that. Lovelace said this event has not only taught the students how to cook Japanese food but also prepared them for the wider world by allowing them to be “culturally open” to various cuisines, customs and traditions. Both TTHTI student co-ordinator Renatta Francis, and Hirayama expressed their hope of a continued partnership between the institute and the Japanese embassy. Francis said the TTHI also wanted to create a closer relationship with other embassies in the country for projects in the future.  

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Nestle committed to reducing sugar in products

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 56 sec fa

Consuming too much sugar can have negative health effects, among them weight gain, blood sugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease.

As part of its health and wellness thrust, Nestlé has made a formal pledge to reduce sugar, salt and trans-fat in all of its products. Between 2000 and 2013, the company reduced the amount of table sugar in its products by 32 per cent, with a real focus on children’s foods. Between 2014 and 2016 alone that translated into the elimination of 39,000 tonnes of sugar out of Nestlé’s products.

“Nestlé’ bases its nutritional criteria on scientific and public health recommendations from the World Health Organisation and other top international and national authorities. Every one of Nestlé’s products must meet Nestlé’s global standards. The company does not do options with more sugar,” head of Corporate Communications Nestle Trinidad Limited Denise D’Abadie told Newsday.

She said Nestlé TT has made significant progress in the reduction of sugar in its market-leading products as part of its commitment to provide individuals and families with healthier choices while retaining the same great taste.

“Sugar reduction in Trinidad and Tobago has been achieved via product renovations affecting the company’s milks and juice drinks. The company has also introduced new sugar-free products. And sugar content has been reduced to nine grammes total sugars or less per serving in all Nestlé-branded cereals.”

Nestlé’s new Orchard Calorie Conscious, which comes in orange and apple flavours, is specially formulated with a zero-calorie natural sweetener as well as fibre for added-value. The drink, D’Abadie said, is suitable for diabetics and people wanting to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The product is was introduced in 2015 and has the endorsement of the Diabetes Association of TT. "Orchard has been in the Caribbean since 1976, so we know it’s our responsibility to ensure that all of our juices are nutritious. And we know that today’s consumers want healthy options for their families. That’s why, we took the big bold step of reformulating all of our popular Orchard juice beverages to reduce their sugar content by 33-50 per cent, to meet and exceed new, healthier standards… while ensuring great taste."

D’Abadie said the company had set a deadline that by the end of 2015 all products for children had to be compliant with its sugar-reduction goal. “If the products were not reformulated in time, Nestlé decided it would simply stop selling them until they were compliant. This affected the smaller ‘lunchbox’ style drinks.” Family products, such as the one-litre packs had to be compliant by the end of 2016, and the deadline was met.

“Nestlé has reformulated most of the products which it manufactures in Trinidad and Tobago to meet international guidelines. Renovation applied to all locally-manufactured products with added sugar. The only exceptions are Nestlé’s 100 per cent juices and its white and culinary milks, which already have no added sugar.” Additionally, the sugar content in flavoured milks Choc Nut, Peanut Punch and Eggnog have been reduced.

According to D’Abadie, there are eight steps in the product renovation process.

Creating a special team to work on the project.

Identifying all the products that need to be reformulated to meet global guidelines and assessing the product recipes to determine the changes that are necessary.

Creating recipes to achieve the target profile and to make sure the products are nutritionally compliant.

Using an internal taste panel to narrow down the selection to recipes to two prototypes.

Using a research company to create special consumer panels to try the products and choose one, explaining their preference.

At the same time as consumer testing is underway Nestlé tests for shelf life.

The final product is launched to the public.

Nestlé undertakes continuous monitoring of consumer feedback both through its customer care hotline and via social media. At different points the company may use those insights to reformulate in what is an ongoing process.

D’Abadie said removing sugar is not an easy or cheap process and it requires commitment. “Keep in mind that sugar has a unique taste profile. When you taste sugar you experience a gradual increase in sweetness and a gentle, relatively quick, tapered taste. Many alternative sweeteners offer a spike in sweetness and a lingering aftertaste. Sugar also affects the body of the product as well — sugar thickens the product so when you remove it you may need to counteract the loss of that effect through the use using of gums for example. Removing sugar also reduces the shelf life of the product, which has implications for the entire supply chain.”

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Tya Jane Ramey is Miss World TT

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 5 min fa

The auditorium of the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando was packed on June 16 when family, friends and well-wishers of the participants in the Miss World TT 2019 pageant came out to support the representatives from their home towns. After all the cheering, Miss Five Rivers, Tya Jane Ramey, was selected to represent TT at the international competition. Second and first runners-up were Miss Rio Claro Nikita Samlal and Miss Chaguanas Laura Lee Williams respectively. “I’m so glad to be here and have this experience. It’s been very intense, this six weeks have been endless training, endless love, endless togetherness to prepare for tonight,” Ramey said, still in shock after the win. Williams too expressed pleasant shock at winning second place. “As of last month I was just a normal student going to school getting ready to do exams and now today I stand here as the first runner-up to Tya Jane Ramey.” [caption id="attachment_771255" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Lujoe and the Gifted perform a Micheal Jackson tribute at Naparima Bowl on June 16.[/caption] The show featured entertainment by Lujoe and the Gifted, singer Tricia Lee Kelshall and Rosesanna Hernandez-Winchester LA Rose.  

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Zante Camp helps vulnerable children

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 5 min fa

DARA HEALY, director of Zante Carnival and Theatre Camp and founder of the NGO Indigenous Creative Arts Network (ICAN), feels that there is so much negativity against TT’s Carnival. Healy is also a Newsday columnist. She wants young people to understand that TT’s Carnival “has value that is beyond what is seen in the media” and beyond “the promotion of pretty mas.” She wants them to also understand that TT’s traditional characters have a story/worth and that it came out of a particular kind of experience. Healy wants to aid in “pulling back” the trend “toward a frivolous approach” to TT’s Carnival. She also wants to change the perception that some hold that when “Carnival is over, back to work.” Through Healy’s eyes, Carnival is work. “We create the Carnival. All the pan, all the mas all of that. We create this. But the society has inculcated all of the negative colonial attitudes about our culture.” ICAN and Zante want to show to young people that Carnival “is beautiful and has meaning” and it is something from which they can create a career, Healy said. The Zante Carnival and Theatre Camp in part fulfils Healy’s wish to show young people that Carnival is something beautiful. The camp will run from July 8 to 27 and is for children aged six to 12. The camp will be held at the Bois Academy, Barataria. On the 27, a showcase (featuring an exhibition and a performance) is put on that shows all of the work done during the period. The performance will be based on one of Healy’s original stories called Anansi and the Spelling Competition. The camp’s activities include theatre, movement and dance, visual arts and wire bending. While it is a paid camp, it also offers scholarships to children from “vulnerable communities.” Parents, she added, don’t have to think about paying for the child so the cost of attending the camp, the materials, field trips and attendant activities is fully covered. Zante was started three years ago out of her idea to continue the work that ICAN has been doing. ICAN does shows like the re-enactment of Canboulay riots every Carnival Friday, it also does work in schools using traditional Carnival characters and works with the education ministry among others. The NGO “uses culture as a means to transform lives and empower people,” she said. Zante was formed when ICAN took the decision to continue that work beyond “putting on a show or working in the community” and extend it to a “younger demographic.” Three years later, Healy has seen the camp grow in terms of its awareness and people recognising the value of the work done. The camp has grown from having ten children in its first year to having about 30 to 40 children this year.

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‘We’ve dug ourselves into a hole’

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 6 min fa

TT men’s football team coach Dennis Lawrence has blamed defensive lapses for the squad’s defeat to Panama, in their opening Group D match in the Concacaf Gold Cup, on Tuesday evening.

Panama scored two second-half goals en route to a 2-0 Gold Cup win in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

After a lacklustre first half, Panama took the lead in the 53rd minute when they intercepted a pass deep in opposition territory before Armando Cooper netted his first Gold Cup goal.

Panama doubled their advantage in the 68th minute through Edgar Barcenas after TT goalkeeper Marvin Phillip had blocked several shots in quick succession.

During the post-game media conference, Lawrence said, “I didn’t feel there was much in the game,” said Lawrence, at the post-game press conference. “The two critical moments in the game (were the) two ‘soft’ goals. We’ve dug ourselves in a bit of a hole now which means we have to start to think about getting two wins from the next two games.”

TT will face the US on Saturday and Guyana four days later.

“That’s international football,” added the TT coach. “If you don’t take your chances and you give away sloppy possession, you can get hurt.”

Kevin Molino, who plays for Minnesota United in the MLS (who uses the Allianz Field as their home ground), had a sub-par performance.

According to Lawrence, “We changed our shape today a bit, tried to be a bit more offensive (and) put in a ‘number 10’ to try and see if we could create more chances. We got in some good situations, never put the ball in the back of the net and then we made two errors which we got punished (for) and we lost the game and came away with nothing.

“Kevin has been out for a while but when we come to his home stadium, I think it would have been foolish not to try to take advantage of that situation,” noted the former TT central defender. “He got in a good goal scoring position, where if he had been a bit sharper he would have taken it a bit quicker. So Kevin did alright and he will build as the tournament goes on.”

Molino is hopeful of a change of fortunes against the US on Saturday. “I think we have what it takes in the locker room to win the game,” said the central midfielder.

Team captain Khaleem Hyland pointed out, “I believe in all the guys and the staff. We just have to work hard and leave everything up to God.”

And Levi Garcia, who started the game as the ‘false nine’ (centre forward), said, “It is a great challenge but football is played on the day. Hopefully we can come and give it our best game.”

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Emrit hits Comets over unpaid wages

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 8 min fa

ON Labour Day yesterday, Alescon Comets cricketer Rayad Emrit blasted club president Dinanath Ramnaraine on Facebook over unpaid wages. Emrit, 38, said some Comets players have not been paid for the recently concluded 2019 season. Comets played their last game of the season three weeks ago, losing to eventual champion Queen's Park in the semi-finals of the T20 Festival at the Brian Lara Academy in Tarouba. The 2019 season bowled off in mid-February.

Emrit said, "I wonder how many club cricketers have played the entire season in Trinidad and have not received not even ONE CENT of their monies owed to them. We have tried to contact the relevant authorities but no success in that. You want to run for TTCB president but you can’t handle your own affairs at your club. You refuse to answer our messages because why the season is over and you don’t need us no more ???? I want the entire public to know what kind of person we are dealing with here. I would love to know what’s really on your agenda to run Trinidad and Tobago cricket. PLEASE PAY WHATS (sic) OWED TO YOUR PLAYERS."

Speaking to Newsday yesterday, a senior official at the club expressed surprise with Emrit's Facebook post, saying the season just ended on May 30.

The official said most local clubs don't usually pay as soon as the season ends. He said Comets has always honoured its commitment to all its players and will continue to do so.

The source said in the regional first class competition, the Caribbean Premier League and other top T20 Leagues, players are often paid after the tournament is over.

He said Comets won the 2018 league and only received prize money this year, which created quite a strain on the club.

"It is not like we sitting down on money and don't want to pay them," he said.

The Comets official said Alescon has loyally sponsored the club for over 20 years and supported the club and the Charlieveille community. He said the club has asked for patience.

"As soon as the sponsor provides the funds we contact the players. This is a most unfortunate statement and the club will apologise to the sponsors."

The Comets official said the club placed second in the league but was yet to receive prize money from the TTCB.

Efforts to contact Emrit proved futile.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Ex-TT sprinter Thora Andrews dies

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 9 min fa

FORMER TOP TT sprinter and hurdler Thora Andrews, nee Best, passed away in Beaumont, Texas, United States on Saturday.

The 73-year-old former national long-jump title-holder was the first TT female athlete to earn a medal at a major international meet, capturing bronze in the 80-metres hurdles in Canada in 1967. It was a full “36 years before another woman (earned) an individual medal in track and field in competition at that level,” former national athlete and government minister Basil Ince reports in his book Olympian, which focuses on 75 years of TT in Olympic sport.

Best started running while in primary school at Tunapuna EC and she won the Victrix Ludorum title several times while at secondary school in St Augustine Girls. Settled into formal athletics under the tutelage of George Clarke of Burnley Athletics Club, Best blossomed into a fine national athlete and had many a memorable duel with aging national sprint champion, Sybil Dommartin at the annual Southern Games and Eastern Games. Along with Sigrid Sandiford, Merlin Reid, Joyce Walker and Millicent Cumberbatch and a handful of others, Best helped to make Burnley a household word in national women’s athletics.

Apart from the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, she represented her country in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Brazil and in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.

In 1964, she came close to realising her dream of making it to the athletics’ biggest stage, the Olympics. The only woman named on a preliminary national contingent for the Tokyo Games, Best was one of the three athletes cut from the squad when lack of funding forced a reduction in the size of the final party to five instead of the original eight.

That same year, she left Trinidad to take up an athletic scholarship at Texas Southern University in the United States and eventually took up residence in that country, finally retiring from competitive athletics in 1971. She became a high school track coach and remained in the field until her retirement in 2006. She was among a score of national athletes honoured jointly by the TTOC and the NAAA a few years ago.

Born in Tunapuna in 1946, the ninth of 12 children, Best was the younger sister of the late former Tapia leader and political thinker, Lloyd Best. She leaves to mourn her husband, Robert Andrews, children Raquel, Tonia, Roberta, Robert jr and Timothy and nine grandchildren as well as three sisters and one brother.

She will be buried in Beaumont on Saturday.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Rain fails to dampen celebrations in Fyzabad

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 14 min fa

NEITHER rain nor retrenchment or threat of job loss, could have stopped thousands from marching in the annual Labour Day pilgrimage in Fyzabad on Wednesday. Umbrellas came out and the music trucks, tassa groups, cadet corps, kept the music pumping as union members, alongside dancing moko jumbies, danced in the rain from Avocat Village to the Butler Hall of Revolution for the rally. Union leaders including president of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget, Prison Association president Ceron Richards, David Forbes of the Postal Workers Union, Nirvan Maharaj of All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, Idi Stewart representing the TT Registered Nursing Association, Lynsley Doodhai of the TT Unified Teachers Association, among others, led the march and the singing of union songs, vowing to keep up the struggle until they get a better day. On the sacred labour platform outside the Butler Hall of Revolution and in the presence of the garland statute of labour’s founding father, Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler, leader after leader had a tongue-lashing for the Dr Keith Rowley led People’s National Movement (PNM) government. Criticisms ranging from unemployment, the closure of Petrotrin and the silence of Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus – who Roget challenged to a showdown, high food prices, crime and insecurity, increase in pension for select officials while ordinary workers struggle to live, the lack of legislation to improve the working class to the failure to settle negotiations and wage increases, were voiced. The rallying cries were “no justice, no peace”, “no retreat, no surrender”, even as OWTU executive Carlton Gibson urged his colleagues it was time for labour to take back the country. “Say no to the PNM and the UNC,” Gibson told the demonstrators, encouraging them to vote for the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) which was part of the march and which has indicated its intention to contest the next two elections. Even as the police in the parade were commended, Roget said crime is out of control. He recalled at last year’s celebration crime was identified as the most critical issue and his prediction if nothing was done the murder rate would have surpassed the previous year. “Sadly, we were vindicated because the murder rate reached 516 last year while in 2017 it was 494. It is not just the numbers, it is the increasingly brazen, fearless and ghastly nature of these murders, where criminals kill in broad daylight with impunity, with total disregard for witnesses, CCTV camera, social media video recording and with absolutely no respect or fear for even the police. “Many innocent people have lost their lives to these gun-toting criminals. We have now become a country where drive-by shootings, double, triple and quadruple murders are the norm, and where unfortunately as a society we have become numb and totally unmoved by these daily ghastly, heinous killings. “Today it is very easy for anybody to put out a hit and have you murdered for the simplest of reasons. It does not matter who you are. As I have always maintained, the only reason you are alive today is because nobody really wants you dead as yet.” While government continues to criticise the last administration for the cancellation of the offshore patrol vessels to secure the borders, Roget said, “It is a fact that today under the PNM our borders remain wide open. “As a consequence even more drugs, sophisticated guns and ammunition are entering our country. These sophisticated weapons are finding their way in the hands of all these ruthless killers. This situation is now made even worse with the infiltration of Venezuelan gangs into our country. All because the government has failed to secure our national borders.” He said only funeral homes, security firms, importers of security equipment, “and those who enjoy huge government contracts to transport young black men from the prisons to the courts on a daily basis” benefit from crime. He called for a comprehensive overhaul of the entire criminal justice system, including prison reform and a halt to the lucrative prisoner transport contract. “We call for the completion of the special court for Remand prisoners.” Roget also urged government to stop its attempt to pass the Private Security Bill, which he said will only concentrate more power and wealth in the hands of certain private security firms. He said the passage of that bill will decimate the Estate Police Association (EPA), “so that no organisation will exist to protect security officers. Today we stand with the EPA in their struggle against the monopolisation, and further concentration of state wealth in the bank accounts of certain private security firms.”

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago

Garcia: Schools got $3.1M

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday - 2 ore 17 min fa

EDUCATION Minister Anthony Garcia said a sum of $3.1 million was disbursed to 126 government primary schools to purchase school supplies for students. He made the statement in response to a question in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Garcia said this money was disbursed out of a fund of $4 billion. He added that an additional request for $850,000 to meet shortfalls to buy school supplies is being processed by the ministry. He dismissed a claim by Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial that TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai was misleading the population on this matter. He explained that he could only respond to questions based on the information provided to him.

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Categorie: Trinidad e Tobago