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HomeFurther AfieldGovernment bows to opposition request for JSC on FACTA legislation

Government bows to opposition request for JSC on FACTA legislation

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 6, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday bowed to opposition demands that the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) legislation be sent to a joint select committee (JSC) of Parliament ending months of wrangling on the matter.
But Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who moved a motion to withdraw the legislation from “the Committee of the whole to the JSC” accused the opposition of being “deadly scared” of having to meet with some of the criteria outlined in the legislation, including having to report US bank accounts to the appropriate American authorities.
“When this matter goes to the joint select committee it is to return here on the third of February and I want to signal to the members opposite it still has to go the Senate afterwards so in order to meet our February deadline we will be taking the vote when the report of the joint select committee returns to this Parliament.
“We are not playing. They want a joint select committee, they want it, they are blackmailing the country and holding the country to ransom with their vote. That is how they see politics, they want the joint select, well you getting it…and we will come back here in the public interest, in the national interest within 21 days…and we are putting this matter to the vote,” Imbert said.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar said that opposition legislators were insisting that there were some measures within the bill that infringed upon the human rights of Trinidad and Tobago nationals and dismissed government statements that they were fearful of the bill being passed.
“If we so afraid of it we would not ask for a joint select committee, we would have just sat here,” she said, adding “but from day one we said put it to a joint select committee”.
She said there were many reasons the opposition wanted the matter to go before the JSC, saying “we do not trust that government.
“We do not trust them and where it is that fundamental rights are going to be violated as in this legislation, complex and far reaching clauses, over reaching …then that is an ideal kind of piece of legislation to go before a joint select committee,” she said.
“This is complex, too far reaching for us to close our eyes and say we are happy with the the four-page thing put out by the government, we are happy with the undertakings and we have seen shifting deadlines,” she said, adding “we have been shown no evidence of these deadlines”.
The government and the opposition legislators have been at odds over the passage of the legislation enacted by the United States government in March 2010.
It requires foreign financial institutions to report directly to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) all clients who are US citizens, green card holders living in the US or abroad, or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.
The deadline for passing the legislation is the end of February and the government needs the support of the opposition for the special majority needed to pass the bill.
Earlier this week, the US Embassy here, said outgoing Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, John Estrada, had travelled to Washington to “meet with Treasury to discuss FATCA and how best to dispel unfounded speculation and ensure enactment of appropriate legislation to comply with this U.S. law regarding U.S. citizen taxpayers”.
Imbert told legislators that the Opposition leader had written to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley suggesting that he write the US president elect wanting to know his incoming administration’s “intention with respect to the FATCA legislation.
“You ever hear more absurdity Madam Speaker. We must write Donald Trump and ask him if he is going to repeal FACTA. That is not how it works. This is a law passed by Congress, by the Republican Senate…This is a law passed by them. The Republicans control the Senate and the Congress Madam Speaker but we must write Donald Trump and ask him if he going to repeal FATCA.
“You really think that the President (elect) of the United States has time with this. What they have time with is to see whether we are going to be compliant, whether Trinidad and Tobago is a serious country,’ Imbert added.

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