The hour-long ramble on FATCA by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley today was both ill-conceived and regrettable.
Dr. Rowley summoned the press and commandeered the State media for a garrulous address in which he did not present any new ideas and, instead, grossly misrepresented the Opposition’s well-documented position.
The Opposition’s stance was outlined in detail during my contribution to the debate in the House of Representatives on Friday September 9, during bi-partisan discussions on Monday September 12, during media interviews and in press advertisements on Friday September 23.
In each of those presentations, I recommended the establishment of a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament to critically examine the relevant legislation, arrive at consensus and to obtain passage of the Bill within the stipulated period.
Even in the midst of my ejection from the House of Representatives last Friday, the Opposition remained committed to continuing debate with a view to resolving policy differences and approving the Bill.
Dr. Rowley’s verbose statement was another step in obfuscation in a matter that would have been resolved if his Government had accepted the Opposition’s proposal 18 days ago for the setting up of a JSC.
In his usual style, he raised a number of red herrings also meant to distract from the real issues of the day.
We expect more of the same from the man without a plan in the coming days and in the budget debate.
It was a blatant effort at deflecting from the bitter pill of the 2016-17 national budget, to be presented on Friday, from the soaring crime rate, growing unemployment, increasing cost of living and other critical economic and social problems.
The Opposition remains unswervingly committed to passage of good FATCA legislation and to Trinidad and Tobago honouring its international obligations in a timely manner.
The Opposition remains prepared and anxious for a resumption of the Parliamentary debate.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar S.C.,
Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Siparia.