It has been two (2) years since Gary Griffith was appointed Commissioner of Police in Trinidad and Tobago and he is finally going on vacation - although some may say the timing is a bit suspect due to the recent “Drugs Sou-Sou” (DSS) scandal, which has yet to be rectified.
However, the Commissioner’s decision to go on vacation at this time was not sudden. In a media briefing earlier this month, Griffith said he was awaiting the first opportunity to take his vacation.
On Tuesday 22nd September 2020, tens of millions of dollars in cash (nobody knows the exact amount) was seized by Officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), who executed a search warrant at a house at Kathleen Warner Drive, Phase I, La Horquetta. The cash came from an alleged Pyramid Scheme (DSS) involving many people.
The very next day the cash was inexplicably returned to the administrators of this Pyramid Scheme, an action which was not authorized by the Commissioner. Since then, an investigation “at the highest level,” into impropriety by several Senior Officers, as well as a Defense Force member (who was allegedly seen on camera appearing to pocket cash from the seizure), have been ongoing.
Other recent public criticisms leveled against Commissioner Griffith include his Media Release in response to Prime Minister Keith Rowley calling for Police to enforce the Public Health Regulations, and his defence of private ‘Zesser’ parties (such as the one at Bayside Towers) during COVID-19.
According to Newsday, Commissioner Griffith will take October off to visit Ireland, where his son Gary Griffith III plays professional football.
Social media posts have been circulating which suggests that Griffith was sent on administrative leave by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), due to his inept handling of the DSS matter. However, Communications Manager for the Police Service, Francis Joseph, has since debunked those rumors. The PCA has no jurisdiction over the Commissioner - only the Police Service Commission (PSC) does. Joseph said the Commissioner applied for his vacation in advance and he has the evidence to support it, which will be made public on Wednesday (30th September 2020) during Griffith’s weekly media briefing.
Acting DCP Mc Donald Jacob, who is currently on vacation, will assume duties as Acting Commissioner on Friday (2nd October 2020). Meanwhile, Acting DCP Jayson Forde is set to go on retirement on Thursday (1st October 2020).
The Ministry of Health will begin providing the new influenza (flu) vaccine to members of the public, at no cost, from today (Tuesday 29th September 2020). The national flu vaccination initiative is especially critical as Trinidad and Tobago continues to implement its COVID-19 response.
A high flu vaccine uptake by the public will help to reduce the demand for public health resources to treat flu related complications. Thus, these resources can be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Who should get the new flu vaccine?
While the flu vaccine is available for everyone, persons who are at highest risk of getting very ill from the flu are especially encouraged to get the new flu vaccine. Persons in the high-risk group include:
Where can I get the new flu vaccine?
In Trinidad, while the flu vaccine will be available at all Health Centres, the Centres listed below will provide the new flu vaccine from Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm:
Members of the public may call the other health centres in Trinidad for their specific flu vaccination schedules.
The public is also invited to visit the social media pages of the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the Ministry of Health for the flu vaccination schedules for Health Centres in Tobago.
All COVID-19 health protocols will be followed.
The Post-Cabinet Media Briefing was held at 1:30pm this afternoon (Wednesday 2nd September 2020) but did not include Prime Minister Keith Rowley. The Media Briefing provided the public with updates on several important issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
Below are the key points discussed today:
- Energy and Energy Industries Minister, Franklin Khan, said the Government continues to work assiduously to bring solutions to ensure the survival of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. He noted the country continues to do reasonably well despite the challenges being faced in the COVID-19 global Pandemic.
- Minister Khan said reports that the Point Lisas Industrial Estate is under threat is a "misnomer." He acknowledged that there are challenges as certain Plants at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate have been idle but said they are "the least efficient ones." Government expects to see the restarting of these Plants in the near future when there is an upturn in energy prices. At least three (3) Plants at Point Lisas are up and running. Minister Khan maintained that the Government continues to meet with all the key players in the energy industry.
- National Security Minister, Stuart Young, commented on a Newspaper Editorial on the deportation of illegal immigrants. He assured that the repatriation of Venezuelans is being done in complete accordance to the law of T&T. He also reminded that during the registration exercise for Venezuelan Nationals last year, it was stated that those who commit criminal acts in T&T would have their Registration Card revoked, and they would be repatriated.
- Minister Young also commented on some positive news with regard to the new Passport delivery system by the Immigration Division with people no longer required to come in to collect their Passport. The turnaround time for Passports is now five (5) to ten (10) days, and renewals are still going on.
- Commenting on the return of $22 Million in cash which was seized from a house in La Horquetta yesterday (Tuesday 22nd September 2020), Minister Young said the matter continues to be investigated by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and urged citizens to be wary of partaking in pyramid schemes. Minister Young maintains that in Trinidad and Tobago, pyramid schemes are considered fraud.
Watch the Press Conference below in its entirety.
This is a developing story - refresh this page for updates.
UPDATE: The Media Briefing started around 1:45pm and it appears the Prime Minister is not present today.
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has announced that Prime Minister Keith Rowley will host the Post-Cabinet Media Briefing at 1:30pm today (Wednesday 23rd September 2020) from the Diplomatic Centre in Port-of-Spain.
High on the agenda at today’s Media Briefing will no doubt be COVID-19 and possibly also the upcoming Budget which is scheduled for 5th October 2020.
This is a developing story - refresh this page for updates.
Public Utilities Minister, Marvin Gonzales, and the Chairman of Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), Keith Sirju, held a virtual Press Conference on Monday (21st September 2020) to announce the long-awaited distribution of free LED bulbs. This distribution plan was initially promised to the population in the last Budget, by Finance Minister Colm Imbert. Since then it has been the subject of many local memes, mocking the seemingly empty promises made by the Government.
Starting from today (Tuesday 22nd September 2020), members of the public can begin to collect their four (4) free LED bulbs per household, as follows:
In our tests today, the earliest available date to collect bulbs at some T&TEC Service Centres was 13th October 2020. Availability may slip further as more people book appointments.
Minister Gonzales noted during the Press Conference that the distribution of the LED bulbs is the Government’s first step in its multi-pronged and multi-tiered strategy for implementation of energy conservation and energy efficiency practices.
The bulbs, which were supplied by Nova Lighting Trinidad and manufactured by Emitter Energy Inc, cost taxpayers a total of $8.8 Million and their distribution will be facilitated by T&TEC.
Sirju, the Chairman of T&TEC, said customers can save approximately $25 per billing cycle by replacing four (4) 60 Watt incandescent bulbs with LEDs. He said LED bulbs also have a much longer life span - 15,000 hours - compared to the 1,000-hour life span of an incandescent bulb. He further noted that LED bulbs also reduce carbon emissions by as much as 17 per cent.
According to Minister Gonzales, a recently completed pilot project at Tower C of the International Waterfront Centre showed that the State can save $350,000 per year by just turning off the lights in the building at night. He noted, “If fully embraced by the national community, as it must be, our Energy Conservation and Efficiency Plan will lead to $1.2 Billion in energy cost savings over the next five (5) years and $2.72 Billion by 2030.”
Gonzales said cutting down in energy use will also have a positive impact on this country’s carbon emissions, which are among the highest in the World. A reduction of about six (6) million tonnes of emissions over the next five (5) years. He said by 2030, those emissions would be reduced by 18 million tonnes.
We are fully aware that securing these benefits requires a turn-around in the ways in which we use electricity in Trinidad and Tobago. The truth is that we, the consumers, do not bear the full cost of the electricity that keeps our lights on and our appliances running.
Gonzales said the average account holder enjoys an 80% subsidy on their electricity bills because T&TEC pays less for natural gas and the full production cost is not passed on to customers. “This, unfortunately, has led to a very cavalier and ‘entitled’ approach to our electricity usage, and that is something that we must change if we are to reap the benefits that I mentioned earlier,” he said.
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC®) announced to its stakeholders this past weekend that the results of the CXC® July 2020 Examinations will be released this Tuesday 22nd September at 5pm.
Candidates are reminded to have their Center Number and Candidate Number on hand to access their results at https://www.cxc.org/student-results/
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