Parliament passes Income Tax legislation without opposition support


by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 1, CMC – Opposition legislators Friday night refused to support an amendment to the Income Tax Bill that the Trinidad and Tobago government said was necessary to ensure the island complied with its international obligations to deal with issues such as money laundering and other criminal activities.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert

The Kamla Persad Bissessar led opposition group failed to support the Income Tax Amendment Bill even after the Keith Rowley government had removed various clauses that required the opposition support.

The government had said that the bill was required to comply with the European union/Global Forum tax information sharing process in order to curb tax evasion. The original legislation had required a special parliamentary majority and despite calls from the private sector including the bankers, the opposition failed to lend support claiming that it entrenched on the constitutional rights of citizens.

With both sides sticking to their positions, it was left to the government to make further amendments to ensure the bill’s passage to meet the Friday deadline set by the international community.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that among the amendments was reducing the powers of the police to request tax-payers information to certain cases.

“It’s no longer a ‘cuss case’ situation,” he said, adding that the government would “do what it has to do.”

Opposition legislator, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, said the government was using intimdatory tactics to get the opposition to vote in support of the measure.

“The Attorney General (Faris-Al-Wari) likes to be pejorative, likes to ridicule Members of the House, but if you say anything here in the House, he is one the first to get up and cite a standing order. He likes to use scare tactics, as he did here, of all the things that would happen (if the bill fails.),” he said, adding “the government’s style is to browbeat the Opposition to conform.””

“You are debating a bill on transparency and free exchange of information, yet you don’t have transparency and free exchange of information.”

When the vote on the bill was taken, 19 government legislators voted in support while the 14 opposition members present voted against the measure.

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by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 1, CMC – Opposition legislators Friday night refused to support an amendment to the Income Tax Bill that the Trinidad and Tobago government said was necessary to ensure the island complied with its international obligations to deal with issues such as money laundering and other criminal activities.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert

The Kamla Persad Bissessar led opposition group failed to support the Income Tax Amendment Bill even after the Keith Rowley government had removed various clauses that required the opposition support.

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The government had said that the bill was required to comply with the European union/Global Forum tax information sharing process in order to curb tax evasion. The original legislation had required a special parliamentary majority and despite calls from the private sector including the bankers, the opposition failed to lend support claiming that it entrenched on the constitutional rights of citizens.

With both sides sticking to their positions, it was left to the government to make further amendments to ensure the bill’s passage to meet the Friday deadline set by the international community.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that among the amendments was reducing the powers of the police to request tax-payers information to certain cases.

“It’s no longer a ‘cuss case’ situation,” he said, adding that the government would “do what it has to do.”

Opposition legislator, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, said the government was using intimdatory tactics to get the opposition to vote in support of the measure.

“The Attorney General (Faris-Al-Wari) likes to be pejorative, likes to ridicule Members of the House, but if you say anything here in the House, he is one the first to get up and cite a standing order. He likes to use scare tactics, as he did here, of all the things that would happen (if the bill fails.),” he said, adding “the government’s style is to browbeat the Opposition to conform.””

“You are debating a bill on transparency and free exchange of information, yet you don’t have transparency and free exchange of information.”

When the vote on the bill was taken, 19 government legislators voted in support while the 14 opposition members present voted against the measure.