Opposition senator Wade Mark has accused the Government of being on a mission of “invasion, intrusion and interference” with the new T&T Revenue Authority Bill (TTRA).
Mark, during his contribution to the debate at yesterday’s Senate sitting, said that the TTRA was government policy to invade people’s privacy.
“This legislation is flawed, defective and completely at odds with good governance, accountability, transparency, political neutrality and most importantly the insulation and protection of workers from political abuse by the political directorate,” Mark said.
He said the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert had no policy and had to be forced to present one when pressed by the Opposition.
“When we look at this bill in its current form, there are very critical areas that leave a lot to be desired,” he said.
He said the regional arm of the Internation Monetary Fund (IMF), the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance (Cartac) advised the Government that there were four options available for the reforming of the tax administration in the country.
“Option A was a revenue authority, option B was an integrated revenue administration in the Ministry of Finance. Option C was a revenue ministry and option D was an enhanced status quo,” Mark said.
He said without debate, the Government only pushed the TTRA and by-passed the other options.
“We do not live in a dictatorship. We have a democracy. And as Members of Parliament, we are not here to rubber-stamp the Government’s policy. That is not our role,” he said.
He said the Opposition had a right to put forward policy alternatives but was not given that opportunity by the Government.
He said the Government had an “agenda” to go with the TTRA.
“The Cabinet of T&T has the authority to appoint the board of directors. It doesn’t stop there,” Mark said.
He said, according to the legislation, the posts of director-general and the director-general are also going to selected and appointed by the Minister of Finance.
“We rejected that. We told the Government to find a new governance model. We don’t want no Minister of Finance, whether it’s in our administration or in your administration, to have that kind of power,” Mark said