Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2017 Contents news A5
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Trump govt not changing FATCA stance
T&T must comply and im-
plement law on the Foreign
Account Tax Compliance
Agreement (FATCA) since
there has been no change in
the US Treasury's position on
FATCA, Finance Minister Colm
Imbert has confirmed.
Speaking in Parliament yester-
day on a Joint Select Committee
report on the FATCA legislation,
Imbert said Government last week
received word from the US Em-
bassy on the position, following
change of administration in the
Imbert said the embassy indi-
cated that all communication from
the US Treasury was that there has
been no change in the US stance.
This concerns the requirement
for T&T to comply with the In-
which T&T and the US had signed
The legislation is necessary to
facilitate a tax information ex-
change agreement between the
US and T&T. It will allow the US'
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to
access information through T&T's
Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) on
accounts held by US citizens in
local financial institutions.
The US had recommended the
legislation be approved by this
month for operationalisation by
September. Passage of the legis-
lation requires at least three Op-
Imbert said, "Based on US feed-
back, the US expects us to pass this
legislation this month."
After passage of the bill, Im-
bert said banks will have to issue
guidelines to their sector and
mechanisms must be implement-
ed to report to the BIR and US by
September 30, "so even then we
have a very small window on this."
When Imbert laid the JSC report
in Parliament on February 2, he'd
indicated Government would be
seeking passage of the bill and Op-
position signatures on the next leg
of debate - yesterday.
"I hope we can pass this today
to avoid damage to the financial
sector that could flow," Imbert
said yesterday, rejecting adverse
comment on FATCA from people
he said had gone around the world
opposing the US law.
He said T&T avoided sanctions
on non-passage of the bill last Sep-
tember since Government had in-
dicated a time line for passage by
Endorsing comments from lo-
cal economists on repercussions of
non-passage, he said the Bankers'
Association also said non-compli-
ance would result in severe adverse
effects on T&T.
Imbert traced debate from
last September, including sev-
eral amendments made follow-
ing Opposition concerns. He
said JSC recommendations also
reflected those amendments.
Debate on the matter continued
well into last night.
... Opposition still not supporting law
Government was facing defeat in
its attempts to pass the controversial
FATCA bill last evening.
The situation seemed imminent after
the contribution by Oropouche East MP
Dr Roodal Moonilal, who was the first
Opposition MP to speak on the Gov-
ernment motion to debate the Report
of the Joint Select Committee on FAT-
CA. The report was laid in Parliament
on February 3.
Moonilal dismissed Government
claims that the Opposition was reluc-
tant to support the legislation because
they had something to hide. He said there
were laws on the books to deal with any
white collar crime in the country, but in-
sisted that one of the major objectives of
the legislation was to provide an avenue
for the Government "to get into people's
business , to get information on ordinary,
harmless, defenceless citizens of T&T."
He said the Government wanted to
use the FATCA legislation to get into
citizens' "bank accounts, their invest-
ments, where they have their children
studying, how much money you have in
an account in America."
"You do not know how devious a gov-
ernment can be, you do not know the
tyranny of an administration that wants
information on you ...that can blackmail
you, that can pass on to criminal ele-
"This Opposition will not participate
in any process of law making that allows
this Government to access sensitive fi-
nancial information of anyone, includ-
ing members of the Opposition and the
He described as a dangerous prece-
dent a report that Attorney General Faris
Al-Rawi requested certain information
from a bank about a Member of Parlia-
ment. He wanted to know on what basis
Al-Rawi was allowed to do that.
Moonilal insisted the work of the JSC
was not complete and moved an amend-
ment to the motion calling for the report
to be deemed an interim one and for more
time to be given to the JSC to continue
He said because of the limited time
given, Opposition members on the JSC
had serious concerns about the report.
He said they were not allowed to submit
a minority report, but such a report was
presented in Parliament yesterday.
The original time frames were given
against the background that the Govern-
ment had a February deadline to secure
passage of the legislation.
Moonilal said, however, that the Gov-
ernment did not present "evidence" to
support the February deadline. This was
later dismissed by Al-Rawi, who read
into the Hansard recorded minutes of
the meeting in which the information
was presented to all JSC members.
Moonilal said there was a tidal wave
across the world against the FATCA
legislation, adding that former Barba-
dos prime minister Owen Arthur was
expected to be among a group of peo-
ple at a seminar in New York yesterday
discussing the FATCA issue, which many
claim was hurting the Caribbean.
Moonilal said FATCA was a measure
introduced by the Barack Obama regime
Al-Rawi said the consequences of not
approving the tax legislation will be ad-
verse for the people of T&T. In his con-
tribution to yesterday's debate, Al-Rawi
said: "Consequence of non-compliance
with FATCA is referred to as death by
He said the time had come to make a
decision on FATCA.
"Today is the deadline day. There is no
more dancing, no more talking, today is
the day for the vote."
Al-Rawi said as a result of non-action
by the former PP government, T&T will,
by March, have to sign a multi-lateral
treaty at the Global Forum which features
similar agreements to FATCA. He added:
"If we don't have it in place by June 2017,
crapaud smoke the national pipe."
Make domestic violence part of conversation
Sunity Maharaj, managing di-
rector of the Lloyd Best Institute of
the West Indies, yesterday called
on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
to focus on the issue of domestic
violence as part of the series of
conversations to the nation.
Maharaj was speaking outside the
Parliament on Wrightson Road, Port-
of-Spain, yesterday, after she and sev-
eral women's stakeholder groups and
NGOs tried unsuccessfully to deliver
paper roses to Rowley and make their
The paper roses, made with local
newspapers, were painted red and
symbolically depicted women who had
lost their lives to domestic violence,
The women tried to give several of
the politicians the roses as they en-
tered the Parliament. Some of them
refused the offering while others
accepted. But some of those roses
never made it inside the Parliament
chamber and were discarded outside
in the lobby area.
Maharaj admitted afterwards that
they had hoped for a different response
from some of the MPs, noting there
was no antagonism in their action.
"This is purely symbolic and a rose
signifying Valentine's Day and this is
an opportunity to meet them (politi-
cians) together," she said.
Maharaj said at this time people
should focus on love, which has to be
extended to the women and girls who
were not there yesterday.
She then referred to Rowley's com-
ment that women should choose their
male companions more wisely at last
week's National Conversations in
Maloney, as he addressed the issue
of Government's response to the ris-
ing domestic-related violence against
"We are suggesting the Prime Min-
ister use the next conversation to deal
with the issue of domestic violence,"
she said, adding Rowley and the Gov-
ernment now have an obligation to
make society safe.
"We don't ask for the Prime Minis-
ter to be in our bedrooms, but for the
Prime Minister and other Government
Ministers to be in their offices and ad-
dress the problem."
She said that "they" all promised to
make the country a safer place and it
cannot be allowed to stay how it was
Maharaj said there were a lot of var-
iables involved in the dysfunctional
nature of society.
She said drinking, loss of jobs and
other factors added to the problem
women faced from abusive men,
noting some of these issues were not
within women's control and should
not be dropped.
"It is easy to offer an apology but
what we want is change," she said.
Caroline Allen, centre, and Adaeze Greenidge, members of Side by Side, present a rose to Health Minister Terrence
Deyalsingh outside Parliament yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Women's NGOs to PM:
Finance Minister Colm Imbert
speaks during debate on the FACTA
bill in Parliament yesterday.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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