Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2014 Contents TORONTO---Canadian Fi-
nance Minister Jim Flaherty,
the longest serving finance
minister among G7 nations
and a fixture on the world fi-
nancial stage, has resigned
from his cabinet position.
Flaherty, who has had the
job since 2006, said Tuesday
he is returning to the private
sector. He has battled a rare
skin disease over the last year
but he said his decision to
leave politics is not related.
Prime Minister Stephen
Harper s Conservative gov-
ernment plans on entering
an election next year with a
Canada s commodity-rich
economy avoided the worst
of the 2008 financial crisis
and has fared better than
other nations. There was no
mortgage meltdown or sub-
prime crisis in Canada, and
Canada s banks are rated
among the soundest in the
"My goal was always to get
Canada back on track to a
balanced budget after the
large deficit we agreed was
necessary in Budget 2009 to
combat the Great Recession
and protect Canadian jobs,"
"I followed through on
that commitment. There is
no doubt that Canada s
budget will be balanced in
2015. Canada s fiscal posi-
tion is the envy of the devel-
oped world." (AP)
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
State-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL)
is operating flights to Caracas, Venezuela
from Caribbean Airlines (CAL) as normal
even as ongoing civil unrest continues in
that South American country.
"At this time we continue fly at least daily
to Caracas and we also offer return flights
to and from Port-of-Spain using our ATR
turboprop aircraft to service a flight that is
generally well booked," CAL communications
manager Clint Williams told the T&T
Air Canada has suspended flights to and
from Venezuela, citing concerns over security.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the
airline says it can no longer ensure the safety
of its operation in Venezuela, which has been
roiled by daily street protests over crime and
a deteriorating economy.
The airline s last flight left Caracas on
Sunday. It is offering refunds to those who
have purchased tickets for flights after that.
The airline said it would consider resuming
operations once the situation in Venezuela
The carrier operated three return flights
between Toronto and Caracas per week.
Venezuela has had protests over the last
month which has resulted in the deaths of
almost 30 people.
"Due to ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela,
Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety
of its operation and has suspended flights
to Caracas until further notice," says the
Canadian airline in a statement.
Venezuela s Minister of Air and Water
Transport, Hebert García Plaza told the state
run Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) that all
business relations with Air Canada airline
will be cut.
"It was a dead-of-night decision. It was
taken unilaterally by Air Canada. We will
start the paperwork required via the Foreign
Ministry. We ended that relationship with
Air Canada until President Nicolas Maduro
decides otherwise," Plaza said.
He also said the Government met with 21
international airlines that offer services to
Venezuela and all airlines are welcomed to
the country. Williams said one area of concern
for CAL is getting its money out of Venezuela
because of irregular supplies of US dollars
in the market there.
"Naturally like all airlines we have concerns
with repatriations. It is well documented that
there are some challenges with getting the
value of your tickets in US dollars as opposed
to Venezuelan currency which is bolivares.
"There is a delay often in being able to
get the funds out of the country. We continue
to work with the authorities in Caracas to
seek solutions. I would not be able to say
how much it is as naturally it is a number
that would change on a day to day basis,"
In January, Bloomberg Business Week in
an article said due to Venezuela s currency
controls, airlines have US $3.3 billion from
their local sales "trapped" there as United
Airlines put it.
Minority shareholder rights advocate Peter Permell
wants Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and
Finance Minister Larry Howai to order the immediate
reversal of all transactions relative to the purchase
and sale of First Citizens shares by that bank s chief
risk officer, H Phillip Rahaman. Permell is calling
for all 659,588 shares be subsequently offered for
sale to the public at the IPO price.
"I am persuaded that the Finance Minister does
not need to wait for any detailed audit report to take
action in this unfortunate situation as it is no different
to what occurred in the 2007 purchase of seven million
shares in the Home Mortgage Bank (HMB) at a cost
of $110 million by former HMB chairman and then
PNM treasurer, Andre Monteil s firm, Stone Street
Capital, except that the scale of that transaction was
greater," Permell said in a letter.
He said the action taken by then Prime Minister
Patrick Manning, who concluded that the Stone Street
transaction was conducted under "questionable cir-
cumstances," was to ensure the shares were transferred
back to the HMB at the same price as the original
Permell noted that FCB is a majority owned state-
enterprise governed by a board of directors that reports
to the Finance Minister. He added that Howai has
already stated that purchase of the shares for approx-
imately $14.5 million is not in keeping with Govern-
ment s policy position of promoting the widest possible
participation in share ownership, among the citizens
"Based on the closing price of $42.15 per share on
January 14 the said shares would have been sold for
approximately $26.5 million and as such Mr Rahaman
would have benefited from a profit of approximately
$12 million," Permell wrote.
"Both FCB and the TTSE were aware or ought to
have been aware of the concerns being expressed in
the public domain for several weeks now in respect
of the said shares, that the Finance Minister had
ordered a forensic audit into this matter, that the rules
of the TTSE require timely disclosure within five busi-
ness days of such transactions, however in this particular
case the information was only posted on the TTSE
Web site on March 12."
Permell said the public perception is that FCB
officials facilitated the transaction by failing or refusing
to exercise their "full and unconditional right to accept
or reject" any application in whole or in part in accor-
dance with the terms of their own prospectus.
CAL continues flights
to Caracas amid unrest
Canada's longtime finance minister resigns
Permell: Reverse sale
of First Citizens shares
Visitors look at
the BMW i3
during the 1st
Expo in Jeju
island, south of
Korea. The First
Expo (IEVE) is
held from March
15-21. AP PHOTO
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