Government incompetent for failing to remove TT from EU blacklist, says Opposition MP

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Government incompetent for failing to remove TT from EU blacklist, says Opposition MP

Member of Parliament for Naparima Rodney Charles is taking the Government to task for its “sheer incompetence, sloth, and laziness” in misleading the population on the matter of the EU blacklist.

After six years in office, Charles said the country remained blacklisted.

“The EU advised on October 6th that TT remained on the blacklist together with Anguilla, Barbados, Panama, US Virgin Islands, and others,” Charles said.

He said the news comes despite being told by the Minister of Finance on May 25th, 2018 that, “to become compliant with Global Forum, European Union and FATF requirements, Trinidad and Tobago is required to have in place the legislative framework that would allow for the exchange of information and the administrative structure for that exchange.”

He said with Opposition support, TT passed the three pieces of legislation in the lower house on March 26 this year, which the Minister said was necessary to address the country’s many deficiencies. These laws include the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill, the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill and the Income Tax Amendment Bill.

He said, “We were told that if the Opposition did not support these three Bills the heavens would fall and the UNC would be responsible for us remaining on the list.”

He said the Attorney General (AG) knew that further steps needed to be taken. These included meeting common reporting standards and standards to counter harmful tax practices as well as passing legislation for a special economic zone.

“What has happened since? Was any of this done? Has any of the legislation passed been operationalised? Why are we still blacklisted?” Charles asked.

He said the PNM blamed the UNC for TT being on the EU blacklist, notwithstanding the fact that it was in December 2017, during the party’s first term in office, that TT was first blacklisted by the EU as a tax haven.

“It is clear that this Finance Minister and this AG are the worst Ministers in their respective portfolios in the history of TT. Amery Browne is still on probation,” Charles said.

He said the Government is unable to ensure the economic survival in these rough post-Covid global times as they are unable to remove the country from various blacklists.