ONE day before TT closed off registration of Venezuelans in the country, 43 were sent back home by members of the Coast Guard who stopped two pirogues off the coast of Icacos.
In a media release, the Coast Guard said the 43 were stopped and escorted back to Venezuela on Thursday.
"The TTCG is not at liberty to provide any information regarding the total number of vessels escorted back to Venezuela, however, the TTCG remains committed to conduct maritime security patrols within our area of operations."
Newsday received a photograph of a Coast Guard vessel with two pirogues nearby on Thursday and questioned the Coast Guard about its veracity. On Friday the TTCG responded. The release said the TTCG knows there will be attempts by Venezuelans to enter the country illegally in time for the registration.
In Parliament on Friday, the Prime Minister said 13,933 Venezuelans had registered as at Thursday night.
From May 31 to June 14, between 7 am to 5 pm, Venezuelans have lined up at three locations, hoping to be registered in a process that would allow them to live and work in the country for up to one year.
Venezuelans who have been accepted through the registration process and granted the opportunity to work will not have to pay contributions to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), and will therefore not qualify for such social services. They will also not have to pay income tax so long as their annual earnings fall within the tax exemption bracket of $72,000 or below. At the end of the process, Government will disclose how many were registered and the cost of the process. The State has set aside $5 million for the exercise.