Naparima MP Rodney Charles today slammed the Keith Rowley administration for yesterday’s announcement by the Council of the EU that our country was among 12 non cooperative jurisdictions worldwide and therefore remained blacklisted.
Barbados, Aruba and Bermuda were among those removed from the blacklist. According to EU reports “Barbados has made commitments at a high level to remedy EU concerns regarding the replacement of its harmful preferential regimes by a measure of similar effect, whilst Aruba and Bermuda have now implemented their commitments.”
Despite acknowledging the vital importance of us coming off the EU blacklist for over three years, this Rowley administration has to date not finalized three pieces of legislation necessary for TT to become compliant. These are the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, the Double Taxation Bill, and the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill.
While this Government “pussyfoots” with its characteristic sloth and trademark incompetence, over 14% of our exports go to the EU and the continent remains an important source of investments, trade, banking relations, foreign exchange earnings and development aid.
“BPTT” and the Anglo Dutch company “Shell” are two major EU players in our vitally important energy sector.
Yesterday’s announcement by the EU, follows another late last week by the ACP Group that TT had been sanctioned for nonpayment of dues for the years 2018 and 2019.
This meant that TT could not participate in yesterday’s negotiations “of the foundation agreement, the regional protocols and programs under the 11th EDF which provide soft loans and development funding for countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP).”
TT benefitted to the tune of millions of Euros under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and the EDF remains among the largest donors in our aid for trade (AFT) strategy.
Our ambassador in Brussels is also now technically barred from taking the floor, or from receiving all ACP documents.
What a shame!
The ACP is an organization of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific States whose stated objective is: “sustainable development of its member states and their gradual integration into the global economy, which entails making poverty reduction a matter of priority and establishing a new, fairer, and more equitable world order”.
It negotiates trade and other arrangements with the EU.
Why is the Keith Rowley administration not taking the necessary measures, with the required urgency, to ensure that TT comes off the various EU, Global Forum and OECD blacklists?
Why is his administration so unmindful of the vital importance of the ACP Group and international banking arrangements in our developmental thrust?
This administration comes to Parliament every week and galleries. They talk a good talk. They skillfully avoid answering important questions. They get uncontrollably angry when alternative views are presented. However when it comes to performance, service, delivery and making us a first world nation, their incompetence becomes clearly manifest.
“I call on Dr Rowley to recognize that you cannot fool all the people all the time. And more so you cannot bully your way with our international partners. Step up to the plate and abide with our international obligations.”