On Monday, as he wound up debate on the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Finance Minister Colm Imbert expressed frustration with the Opposition and declared: "I am ashamed to be a Parliamentarian."
His frustration followed five failed attempts to get the United National Congress (UNC) to participate in debate on legislation which the minister said is not just about the business community but about the average citizen.
"Failure to pass this law will affect all 1.3 million souls in T&T, especially the little people! We'll be in a situation where we in T&T won't be able to do any transactions with the outside world," the minister said.
If those warnings didn't raise alarm bells for those sitting in the wings as the alternate government, what will?
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's argument that FATCA is not as important as crime is not justification for the UNC not participating in the debate.
It might be useful at this point to remind the Opposition, as well as all other elected representatives, that they are in Parliament because of the hundreds of thousands of people who voted for them. They sit in those chambers to represent citizens from all walks of life–housewives, farmers, business leaders and a lot of ordinary people who are well aware of the consequences if FATCA legislation is not passed.
Imbert, anticipating the lack of Opposition support, has asked the United States for yet another extension on the deadline for compliance to September 2017.
It is not yet known whether that request will be granted, so there continues to be anxiety and uncertainty over the matter, particularly as the legislation requires a two-thirds majority for passage. That means it must be supported by at least three Opposition Members of Parliament to be passed.
The Opposition owes it to the people who elected them to protect their interests and they can do that most successfully by participating in the FATCA debate and putting on record their concerns about the legislation. In any case, their strategy of boycotting the debate is not working, if comments and social media postings are anything to go by, as the majority don't understand the point the UNC is trying to make. Instead, the widely held perception is that the Opposition is holding the Government to ransom.
The country now waits to see the UNC's next move as Government has removed clauses in the legislation to which they objected.
Hopefully, the fast approaching new year will bring with it a new approach by politicians on both sides who must share blame for the current FATCA legislative dilemma facing the country.
It is bad enough that the criminal element, which constitutes a small minority of the population, seems hell bent on destroying the country.
It can't be too much to ask that politicians on both sides of the Parliament chamber show themselves to be capable and willing to defend the interests of citizens by working hard to develop laws, programmes and policies that further T&T's development and put the nation on a path to prosperity.
Instead of trying to score points on political rivals, what citizens need from their elected representatives is that they co-operate on critical issues with the aim of saving T&T from further economic and social decline.
There is a growing sense of hopelessness across the land, so it is imperative that those elected to fix T&T's problems do just that.
It is FATCA today. Can the country expect another protracted political impasse the next time there is a bill before Parliament that requires a special majority?
Enough with the dramatic walk outs, boycotts, cross talk and parliamentary time wasting. Time to get down to the business of doing what is right for T&T.
The Opposition owes it to the people who elected them to protect their interests and they can do that most successfully by participating in the FATCA debate and putting on record their concerns about the legislation. In any case, their strategy of boycotting the debate is not working, if comments and social media postings are anything to go by, as the majority don't understand the point the UNC is trying to make.