Unable to develop plans to take us forward our Government appears at sea differentiating critical issues from frivolous pursuits. Our CARICOM neighbours have been lobbying for regional action to be taken to ensure that our banks do not suffer the consequences of de-risking. Our response has been incomprehensible at best and irresponsible at worst.
Barbados Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, outlined the dangers of de-risking at the 27th inter-sessional conference of heads of government of CARICOM in Belize stating “De-risking could lead to delinking CARICOM economies from access to the global payments and financial system, and would therefore have a severe impact on people’s ability to transfer remittances through money service companies.”
Meanwhile Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley saw it fit to respond that more work needs to be done on the laws. This is typical Rowley mode – reactive, minimal research, off the cuff and lacking effective plans.
Where Dr Rowley was nonchalant on the issue, Mr Colm Imbert, chose to be condescending. The banks have been lobbying for FATCA legislative compliance to be put in place and the Minister of Finance responded: “I suggested to the bankers that they meet with Opposition to apprise them of the need for a collective effort. I was a bit surprised, therefore, to see my suggestion translated into a press conference, so there may have been a misunderstanding of what I asked them to do.”
Is it that Mr Imbert and his Government were not prepared to address concerns raised by the banks, so they sent them to parlay with the Opposition? They are clearly not fit to govern. Our business sector is asking to be appraised of the status of the legislation, and they are asking that the Government puts in the work to ensure that we are compliant. In 2014 Larry Howai, the then Minister of Finance, secured an agreement in substance with the US Government and the present Minister of Finance refuses to do something as simple as answer a question.
Imbert has left on his roadshow, having given no real answer to the banks. AmCham has had to reiterate the call for FATCA compliance, to be placed high on the Government’s priorities. In a statement, the group called for the “timely enactment” of legislation so that local financial institutions can be guided by it, adding that given the September 30 deadline for the legislation to be implemented. They have called on the Minister to directly address the issue.
The Government seems intent on political gimmickry. As with the Bail Amendment, the Government will approach the Opposition at the very last minute, in an attempt to force a rushed and poorly scrutinised decision-making process. They have already shown a wanton disregard for due process, and a marked lack of planning; therefore their actions here are not surprising.
Trinidad and Tobago deserves a Government that is aware of issues facing the country and the region, and one is prepared to act in the best interest of the country and adopt a leadership role in CARICOM. Instead, institutions must go cap in hand, begging the Minister to respond to their concerns. Leaders like PM Stuart and PM Barrow, have called for a regional approach to an impending crisis. PM Rowley has stated more work needs to be done and that he will be on vacation in August while Minister Imbert playing for time has said “ask the Opposition”.
Is it that they feel the Opposition is in charge and we must somehow ‘deal with it’?
We are willing to work with them in the national interest but they are too harden, too full of themselves, too incompetent, too bankrupt of ideas, too vacuous, too lacking of vision. Like the worst kind of OJT’s they will not even listen.
Has this “last minute” Government assessed the implications of not implementing the legislation by September 30? What would be the impact on cross border trade? Have they given any thought as to the way forward, or are they simply content to play politics with our nation’s economic future.
Lord help us!