Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley hosted a Media Conference at the VIP Lounge at the Piarco International Airport this afternoon, shortly after his return from Barbados where he participated in and delivered remarks at the opening of the Roundtable Discussion on De-Risking and Correspondent Banking.
The Prime Minister stated that US officials at the Roundtable Discussion have given a commitment to allow some hearings so CARICOM Leaders can share their concerns and the difficulties faced by the regional banking sector, which, through no fault of their own, has been “penalised, or on the verge of being penalised for banking operations that are not acceptable.” He noted that T&T has falsely been accused of being an offshore banking centre when we are engaged in normal retail banking and international commercial banking.
The Prime Minister said financial services are integral to economic development and national budgets of several countries within CARICOM, and it is important for foreign banks to stay in the region. Noting that one of the most profitable aspects of the economy is the banking business, Dr. Rowley said it is critically important that regional banks are allowed to function “without fetter” and are allowed to grow so the region can benefit from the banking system.
PM Rowley confirmed that he will be in Washington DC from Sunday for one week for bilateral discussions.
The Prime Minister confirmed that further Public Health adjustments will be made soon in relation to the cruise ship and travel industries.
PM Rowley reminded citizens that COVID-19 is still with us, and mask wearing remains mandatory in public. He stated, “We continue to wear the mask because it reduces, if not eliminates, our individual exposure, either from getting it ourselves or spreading it to others.”
On the recent spate of murders, the Prime Minister said Government, the TTPS, and other agencies are actively engaged in dealing with crime, especially gun crimes.
PM Rowley also expressed concern over the high number of school fights since school reopened this week. However, he said the reintroduction of corporal punishment is not on the agenda to deal with school violence. He added, “The violence I am seeing is unacceptable. The Minister of Education is actively engaged in reviewing the process by which we restrain students who exhibit violent behaviour in the school space.”