Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 3rd 2018 Contents Wednesday, January 3,2018
Opposition refuses to
support Anti-Gang Bill
. From Page A8
Dumas said: "Is it that there was no invitation? Is it
that something was being considered? I don't know,
we will probably never get to the truth of the matter
because the Chinese aren't going to say anything, of
course. But it is highly unusual and it does represent
on the face of it a snub."
Questions were also raised by former Minister in
the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne who also
felt it was a diplomatic snub.
The issue erupted into a war of words with Young
lashing out at Dumas and Browne saying they should
not comment on matters about which they do not
have all the facts.
Almost simultaneously came the announcement
that PNM activist Makeda Antoine was being ap-
pointed to the top diplomatic post of Ambassador to
the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dumas criticised the appointment saying he did
not believe Antoine had the experience to head such
an important mission.
Legislative sparring in the House
On the legislative front, Government and the Op-
position traded words over the Foreign Accounts
Tax Compliance Act (Fatca), a matter which had
been on the agenda from late 2016. The banking sec-
tor pleaded with Parliament to pass the legislation.
The legislation enables local financial institutions
to report to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on
accounts held by US clients via the Board of Inland
Revenue and is part of US tax evasion law.
The issue came into the spotlight after the Bankers
Association of T&T (BATT) and other groups began
warning of possible negative consequences for the
country if the legislation wasn't passed within a spec-
ified time frame. Signals from the Opposition that it
was not prepared to support the Bill, which required
a special majority, added to weeks of tension, char-
acterised by dire warnings of losses and economic
fall out if T&T failed to become Fatca complaint.
Eventually, after much political sparring, the legis-
lation was passed unanimously in the House of Rep-
resentatives on February 23, with all 39 MPs present
on that day voting in favour of the amended Bill. It
was also passed in the Senate with 29 in favour, none
against and one abstention.
The second legislative stand-off occurred late in
the year when Attorney General Faris al-Rawi tabled
the Anti-Gang Bill in Parliament.
In announcing plans to debate the Bill, the AG
quoted figures from the Organised Crime Intelli-
gence Unit (OCIU) which showed there were close
to 2,459 suspected gang members across the coun-
try. However, the Opposition refused to support the
measure and when a vote was taken on December
7, the Bill failed to get the required three-fifths ma-
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar blamed
the defeat of the Bill on Prime Minister Rowley,
claiming it was due to his resistance to their recom-
mendations on a sunset clause. The legislation can-
not return to Parliament for six months.
Of emails and Emailgate
Toward the end of the year, a statement by act-
ing Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams that
Emailgate allegations raised years earlier had been
found to be of "very little of substance," led to calls
by the Opposition for Rowley's resignation.
Another controversy that was still brewing at
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
Moonilal read into Hansard an email
linking payments of the $80 million
involved in the so-called fake oil
scandal at Petrotrin involving A&V
Drilling to "the spouse of a high-rank-
ing government official."
As he read the contents of the
email with details of a foreign bank
account, the AG intervened declaring
that Moonilal had made a "direct in-
dictment on the Prime Minister."
Moonilal reluctantly withdrew the
Prime Minister Rowley has since
instructed his attorneys to pursue
legal action against persons who had
published the "false and malicious"
statements made in the Parliament
year's end had to do with a threat of
legal action over allegations by Oro-
pouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal.
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