In a report in Newsday today, People’s National Movement (PNM) General Secretary Ashton Ford is suggesting that theUnited National Congress (UNC) lacks commitment to Trinidad and Tobago citing the party’s position on the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill 2016.
Keith Rowley’s PNM is out of place to question our commitment for defending citizens’ rights in dealing with legislation that advances the interests of The United States while putting into jeopardy the rights of our citizens.
The United National Congress (UNC) wishes to reiterate its commitment to passage of the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill 2016.
We also wish to register our strong objection to the false propaganda from the Rowley PNM suggesting that the Opposition is being unpatriotic in not supporting the legislation in its present form.
We will support the bill so long as it is amended to protect the rights of citizens. But we will not support faulty legislation by a government incapable of managing a meaningful governance agenda.
Under the Bill, the Minister of Finance, will have access to citizens’ private financial information. That’s a violation of people’s privacy and we will not allow such an invasion into the lives of our citizens. That power should be vested in the Board of Inland Revenue and not a politician.
No amount of threats by Keith Rowley’s cohorts will change the opposition’s resolve to act always in the interest of the citizenry. Our ultimate duty is to protect the interests of the people and those of our country and we will do so in all circumstances.
The enactment of the legislation requires careful consideration to balance the interests of Trinidad and Tobago. The government has seen it fit to state up front that the legislation would infringe the human rights of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
In these circumstances, it is only natural for any responsible opposition to demand a review of any such legislation before it is enacted and that is exactly what the UNC opposition will do.
T&T is not PNM country and the PNM cannot be permitted to infringe human rights without being held accountable by the UNC opposition.
We are willing to work with the government in committee to deal with offending sections of the bill and we remain committed to passing the legislation so long as citizens are protected.
This position is consistent to what we have stated before. As the country’s alternative Government we are mindful of Trinidad and Tobago’s international obligations with respect to FATCA and the implications of non-passage of the Tax Information Exchange Bill, 2016.
In that context we will support the legislation, suitably amended to protect as far as possible the rights of all citizens and the best interests of the country.
Therefore, we are calling on the government to end its propaganda and to sit down as mature individuals to work on properly drafting legislation that will pass in Parliament.
Keith Rowley in opposition was obstructionist as he pledged to work against the elected government without any consideration for the welfare and rights of the people. That same uncaring attitude is manifest in the Rowley-led government.
May we remind you of this statement from Dr. Keith Rowley in September 2012:
“We will not co-operate with the Government on any matter. We will isolate them as long as they remain in office. They do not deserve to be in office…”