Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2016 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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Finance Minister Colm Imbert says the
Government is still awaiting a response
from the US Treasury Department on its
request for an extension to have the
FATCA legislation approved.
The extension may turn out to be Gov-
ernment s only hope of saving some sectors
of the economy from collapsing after the
Opposition s walkout on the debate yes-
terday, leaving the Bill s passage before the
September 30 deadline in jeopardy.
Speaking to reporters about the Bill s
future some time after the Opposition
walkout, Imbert said he expected the
response from the US authorities next
week, adding what the Government was
not prepared to do yesterday "was to allow
this Bill to go to a vote and fail."
He said if that were to happen the mat-
ter could not return before a six-month
period and if it had failed "it would have
sent an entirely wrong signal to the US
Treasury and American authorities."
He reiterated that was the Government s
major concern, adding that "under no cir-
cumstances are we going to do anything
that will allow this Bill to fail."
Imbert said he also wrote to the US
ambassador in Port-of-Spain, John Estra-
da, who "has gone off to Washington and
he told me he was also going to speak to
people in the (US) Treasury and we will
see what happens."
He said: "It was not a time for nerv-
ousness but a time for being purposeful
and doing it the right way and making
sure we don t give the US the wrong mes-
sage as a country, that we are prepared to
be flippant abut this whole thing."
Imbert said since September 12, follow-
ing a private meeting between the Gov-
ernment and Opposition, he had realised
the Opposition had no intention of sup-
porting the Bill. He said the People s
National Movement (PNM) Government
did everything it could do to secure
approval of the measure and it would have
been very easy for the Opposition to draft
and present its amendments to the leg-
islation two weeks ago.
He also dismissed an Opposition claim
that Government brought the legislation
to distract attention from the national
budget to be presented next Friday.
Rather, he said he, his staff and the Gov-
ernment were being inconvenienced "by
accommodating the antics of the Oppo-
Imbert said instead of yesterday s fiasco
he should have instead been "going through
the 10,000 line items in the budget" and
looking at specific documents. He said the
estimates were to be printed yesterday.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Min-
ister, Stuart Young, said the inability to
have the legislation approved "lies at the
footstep of the Opposition."
"They have not shown that they are
responsible. Their display and behaviour
today was obviously staged and they came
here intending to walk out and to not sup-
port this legislation."
Young insisted the legislation was "not
legislation that affects the rights of citizens
of T&T. This legislation affects US tax-
payers and residents. So all the propaganda
that they (Opposition) are attempting to
protect citizens of T&T are completely
false, inaccurate and wholly irresponsi-
Young added: "This legislation is not
about T&T citizens."
He insisted that the issue of reciprocity
"will not come into play until the US Gov-
ernment passes domestic legislation."
The walkout caused House Leader, Plan-
ning and Development Minister Camille
Robinson-Regis, to call for the early
adjournment of the House to Friday at
1.30 pm, when the national budget for
2016/17 will be presented by Imbert.
Govt awaiting response on extension from US
Earlier, all the Opposition MPs, except Caroni
Central s Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, walked out
of the Parliament during debate on legislation
to approve a US Foreign Account Tax Compliance
Act with T&T, after their leader Kamla Persad-
Bissessar was ordered to leave the chamber by
House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George for
"gross" disorderly conduct.
It was the first sitting of the second session
of the 11th Parliament at Tower D, Waterfront
The drama unfolded just before 4.30 pm during
the contribution by Attorney General Faris Al-
Rawi, who said the agreement was discussed by
the former PP government, led by Persad-Bisses-
sar, on four occasions while in office and their
members suddenly felt something was wrong
Persad-Bissessar rose to her feet and objected
to the AG s claim.
"You are speaking untruths," she shouted.
Annisette-George then got up.
"Member for Siparia, member for Siparia,
member," the Speaker said.
But Persad-Bissessar continued: "You are not
speaking the truth in this Parliament, lies."
When the noise in the chamber subsided, the
Speaker told Persad-Bissessar that her conduct
amounted "to gross disorder and I ask you to
withdraw from the chamber for the rest of the
Persad-Bissessar then said: "Thank you."
She was leaving with other members, including
Princes Town MP Barry Padarath, who shouted
This forced the Speaker to also ask Padarath
to withdraw from the chamber.
Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal then
shouted: "Why don t you call everybody name
to leave the chamber?"
Opposition MP Dr Rudranath Indarsingh, who
was packing his papers, said "there was abuse
taking place in this Parliament."
Al-Rawi, who remained silent for a few
moments, then resumed his contribution.
He said: "There can be no greater disrespect
to T&T than the Opposition s walkout today
because of misconduct."
Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds
shouted that the Opposition was "walking out
Imbert chimed in: "They were always planning
to walk out."
Al-Rawi had earlier pointed out that only three
of the Opposition s six concerns remained and
that could have been resolved if the Opposition
accepted an invitation to meet with the Gov-
ernment in Parliament for one hour in a private
setting yesterday. The Opposition did not accept
The Government requires the support of at
least three Opposition MPs to secure passage of
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, centre, speaks with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister of Planning and Development Camille
Robinson-Regis following a walkout by Opposition members during the FATCA debate in Parliament yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
BHOE STANDS ALONE
Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie
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