Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 8th 2014 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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Government has increased the limit on
loans for low-income first-time home own-
ers to $625,000. The loans will also be grant-
ed at a two per cent interest rate.
This was revealed by the managing director
of the T&T Mortgage Finance Company Ltd
(TTMF), Ingrid Lashley, yesterday, during a
meeting with a parliamentary joint select
committee in Port-of-Spain.
She said the TTMF received notice from
the Ministry of Finance and the Economy of
the increase in the loan limit from $450,000
to $625,000 on January 10 and consequently,
the TTMF had gone back to the ministry to
ask for clarification. She said the request for
information was made because a customer
had tried to get a loan and had said when he
constructed his house on former Caroni lands
he would have spent more than $625,000.
She said, "That is not in keeping with the
spirit of the programme."
At that point, Land and Marine Resources
Minister Jairam Seemungal, a member of the
JSC, said: "Under the Lands for the Landless
programme, some of the lands in central and
south were valued more than $500,000 for
the land alone."
He asked if the TTMF could make any
adjustments in specific instances.
Lashley, in response, said, "The flexibility
with the two per cent mortgage programme
is not within our discretion."
She said when the programme was first
developed, it was on the basis of cost and not
value and previously the cost of the land was
determined by Government with properties
valued at $425,000 but sold at $200,000.
"We took cost as equal to value in applying
the programme at the time," she explained.
"We have gone back to the Ministry of
Finance and the Economy for permission to
use cost rather than value in respect of, for
example, the Caroni Lands."
Seemungal then enquired whether the limit
for applicants to qualify for a low-income
home could be increased from a salary of
$8,000 a month to $12,000, because young
engineers and other professionals could not
qualify as their salaries were more than the
Lashely said on two occasions the TTMF
had asked the Government to increase the
limit to $10,000 and $12,000, but the requests
"In their discretion, particularly with regard
to the subsidy of the programme, they have
not taken action on it yet," she added.
She said the TTMF was ready whenever
the Government was ready.
Responding to questions from Opposition
MP Dr Amery Browne on the Land for the
Landless programme, Lashley said the 500
beneficiaries had pre-qualified for loans and
were awaiting the allocations of the Land Set-
tlements Agency before they could apply for
Lashley said the Cabinet is to consider
shortly a proposal to establish a holding com-
pany, as Government proceeds to merge the
TTMF and the Home Mortgage Bank. She
said the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was
appointed transaction advisers for the first
phase and in its report, dated January 6, rec-
ommended that the merger be effected under
a holding company.
Lashley said the recommendation provided
for "TTMF to remain whole, HMB will remain
whole and the wholly-owned subsidiary of a
company to be called T&T Mortgage Bank
The report, with an appropriate recom-
mendation, "is to be made to the Cabinet and
we will be guided thereafter," she said.
In response to a question from JSC chairman
Senator Elton Prescott, SC, Lashley said the
need for the holding company "arises from
the constraints at TTMF in respect of its fund-
ing resources and the constraints on HMB in
respect of its ability to garner new business."
She told the JSC the merger "will allow
each entity to operate where it is strongest
and that the National Insurance Board (major
shareholder) will benefit by these synergies
to the benefit of pensioners."
At the start of the meeting, Prescott paid
glowing tribute to former Senator Corinne
Baptiste-McKnight, who died yesterday and
whose contributions, he said, were "always
pointed and direct." He said her passing was
regretted. (See page A6)
Slinger (The Mighty Sparrow) Francisco, left, is all smiles as he holds a cheque for the
value of $50,000 dollars which he just received from Chairman of JOSAMCO Ltd,
Junior Sammy, right, during a concert in which Sparrow performed together with
David Michael Rudder at The Zen nightclub. Sparrow was honoured for his fifty years
in the music industry. PHOTO: DAVID WEARS
Members of the controversial Orthodox Jewish
sect Lev Tahor have appealed an order by the
T&T Government to have them deported back
In confirming this yesterday, Attorney General
Anand Ramlogan said the group made the appeal
to Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes in
accordance with Section 21 (2) of the Immigration
"This is an interesting and important devel-
opment and I have no doubt the chief immigration
officer would deal with the matter expeditiously
to challenge this decision and to have them return
to Canada," Ramlogan said.
On when a decision would be made by Downes,
Ramlogan said that was up to Downes, but said
he expected a decision within the shortest possible
The group, three adults and six children, arrived
at the Piarco Airport on Monday. The remained
under protective custody at the Piarco Hotel up
to yesterday, with officials not allowing them free
access to the outside world.
Ramlogan said the children were the subject
of a child protection order in the province of Que-
bec and the Government was liaising with its
Canadian counterparts to facilitate their swift
"We have been liaising with the Canadian
authorities through the Central Authority and
the Civil Child Abduction Authority in the Office
of the Attorney General with a view to have the
group returned to Canada."
There is a child protection order issued by a
competent court in Quebec with regard to the
custody, care and control of the children which
appeared to have been violated, he said.
"And therefore we are committed to ensuring
the rule of law is upheld," Ramlogan said.
He said National Security Minister Gary Griffith
was doing all that was possible to ensure the
group is comfortable and properly taken care of
while in Trinidad.
The group has requested passage to Guatemala,
and immigration officials said they believed they
ended up in Trinidad by mistake because they
missed their flight to Mexico.
A report in the Toronto Star said members of
the sect have been under investigation by Quebec
police and child protection authorities for years.
It added child protection authorities had docu-
mented what they said was evidence of physical
abuse, poor mental and physical health and a
substandard education regime. The sect has denied
all allegations of abuse.
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