Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 3rd 2015 Contents A25
letters on sunday
May 3, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
I would like to congratulate Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar on granting the baby
care assistance of $100 million.
For too many years we have witnessed the
neglect of babies within T&T, especially due to
the high substantial cost of nurturing a child.
This grant will go a long way in alleviating
poverty by assisting with clothing and feeding
these children whose parents cannot other-
I would like to specially commend the pro-
gramme for its e-connectivity and emphasis
on parental counselling. We have observed
that, in the past, infants were dying due to
negligence in these vital areas and we cer-
tainly hope that this programme will aid in re-
ducing the risks of child mortality.
Honourable Prime Minister, one of the ben-
efits of this programme is its corollary effect
on addressing the labour shortage in this
country. As you are aware, the business com-
munity continues to complain about the lack
of availability of workers to meet the needs of
customers. Some months ago, one of our fast
food chains apologised to the nation for the
poor service experienced at its retail outlets
which it contended emanated from the short-
age of labour in T&T. It used to be that long
ago the customer was the boss, but because
of the population decline, the boss is now
labour. To prove this point, I would like to re-
mind the nation that just about a decade ago,
the Common Entrance exam was written by
approximately 27,000 students, today that
figure stands between 17 000 to 18,000---a
decline of about 10,000. Notwithstanding
that T&T has elevated our standard education
as a result of nursery to tertiary education for
all, which has had a knock-on effect on the
availability of manual labour.
The lack of manual labour has been particu-
larly severe in the tourism, agriculture and the
service industries. Other factors resricting
population growth include family planning,
gay rights, miscarriages, education and later
marriages, smaller families, migration and so-
I would like to recommend that the present
programme be extended for up to five years,
to the primary schools whereupon the School
Feeding Programme will continue to provide
for the nutritional needs of our future genera-
tion. Not only could this initiative improve the
health and wellness of our nation's children
but in so doing, positively impact on the
growth rate of our population.
It is now an open secret that Cemex
recently achieved a takeover of Trinidad
Cement Limited (TCL) upon increasing its
shareholding in the regional cement producer
from 20 per cent to 39.5 per cent via an
exclusive subscription agreement approved
exclusively by the TCL board of directors.
This newly acquired (39.5 per cent) stake
means that Cemex is by far TCL s largest
single shareholder. Prior to the Rights Issue,
TCL s other major shareholders were Republic
Bank with 27,373,369 or 10.96 per cent, the
National Insurance Board with 25,367,032
or 10.16 per cent and a company named
Baleno Holdings Inc, of which very little is
known, with 20,500,000 or 8.21 per cent.
However, ever since November 2004, when
this foreign-based company snapped up a
20 million-block of TCL shares at $7.85 per
share, in a transaction worth more than $153
million, speculation has been rife that Cemex
might have been the one behind it.
At the time, media reports confirmed that
the shares had been sold by three powerful
corporate entities---Neal and Massy Holdings,
Associated Brands Ltd and Guardian Hold-
ings/RBTT Financial. It is noteworthy that
the transaction occurred a mere two years
after the Mexican cement giant had narrowly
lost out in its bid to take over TCL in 2002.
Since then, several commentators, includ-
ing Guardian s chief editor of business,
Anthony Wilson, and former TCL CEO, Dr
Rollin Bertrand, in their articles over the
period, have done much more than just
allude to the possibility that Baleno Holdings
Inc might be related/connected to Cemex.
But interestingly, Cemex has never denied
such allegations. In fact, the "talk in town"
is that Baleno Holdings Inc is an offshore
company secretly registered in Belize and
Switzerland with ties to Cemex.
According to Fidelity Overseas Ltd, one
of the firms engaged in the registration of
Belize offshore companies, these companies
are structured in such a way so as to avoid
unnecessary attention for the business and
its participants; and to make any links
between the offshore company and its true
owner less noticeable to prying eyes.
All internal corporate documents (register
of directors, register of shareholders, etc)
are strictly confidential. Information about
the owners (beneficiaries), directors and
shareholders is not available to the public
and may only be disclosed by court order.
In light of Cemex s increased shareholding
in TCL, fresh questions are now being asked
in certain quarters as to:
1) What is the true nature of the relation-
ship between Cemex and Baleno Holdings
2) Does Cemex, by virtue of any agree-
ment, arrangement, commitment or under-
standing with Baleno Holdings Inc, currently
have the power to direct the business and
affairs of Baleno Holdings be conducted in
accordance with its (Cemex s) wishes?
Needless to state, answers to the above
are not only long overdue but in the present
scenario are of "material" importance and
could have far-reaching implications for
TCL shareholders going forward.
I am therefore calling on Cemex to state
categorically for the record: whether or not
it (Cemex) has a relationship with Baleno
Holdings Inc, and if so, what precisely is
the nature of same and when was it con-
Moreover, I trust that Cemex, being a
responsible organisation, publicly listed on
the New York Stock Exchange, will welcome
this opportunity to clear the air and put this
matter to bed once and for all.
Minority Shareholder Rights Advocate
Does Cemex have a secret
relationship with Baleno Holdings Inc?
Extend baby care grant to protect our future generation
A moko jumbie holds a child during Point Fortin
J'Ouvert celebrations yesterday.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Links Archive May 2nd 2015 May 4th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page