The pulling and tugging between government and opposition regarding the FACTA bill is continuing.
Today Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar says the Government on Wednesday left Trinidad and Tobago bewildered and acted in bad faith on the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill 2016 as it closed the session of Parliament without honouring a public commitment.
This was contained in a release sent by the Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar.
On Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert had stated publicly that the Government had agreed to a proposal of the Opposition for the establishment of a Joint Select Committee (JSC) to consider amendments to the legislation.
However members of the Opposition still criticized the Government for their lack of support.
Now the Opposition Leader is complaining that while on the floor in the Parliament on Wednesday there was no mention of this agreement, as debate on the Bill resumed.
She claimed that the Parliament was then abruptly adjourned sine die, meaning that unless there are urgent and unforeseen circumstances, the first session of the 11th Parliament has come to an end.
In response, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has stated that the People’s Partnership Administration could have passed the FATCA legislation on its own, but chose not to do so, leading to the present situation.
He maintains that there is a complete misunderstanding of the real issues with respect to the Foreign Account Taxpayer Compliance Act (FATCA) legislation currently before the Parliament.
In a media release sent today Mr. Imbert revealed that this was based on comments made in the public domain.
He explained that the legislation requires a special majority in Parliament, i.e. a 3/5 majority, which the present Government does not have at this time.
The Government currently has 23 members in the House of Representatives, all of which are available to vote for the FATCA legislation, but 26 votes are required to pass the Bill.
He noted that the former PP Government started its term in 2010 with 29 votes and ended its term with 27 votes.
He said that at any time over the period June 2010 when the Parliament commenced under the PP Government to June 2015, when the Parliament was dissolved, prior to the last general election, therefore, he said, the former administration could passed the Bill.