The day after law for the T&T Revenue Authority is passed, the legislation will be challenged in the High Court, UNC Senator Wade Mark has declared.
“This bill is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, ultra vires and null and void!” he said in the yesterday’s Senate debate on the TTRA Bill.
“I want to call on the Government to say – not like Mr (Abu) Bakr ‘warned’ the Government – the day after it’s passed it will be taken before the High Court and taken all the way up to the Privy Council! This bill puts too much power in the hands of a political directorate!”
Accusing Government of “overwhelming moves” to take control of T&T’s wealth, Mark said the bill, which the UNC dubbed the “Imbert Revenue Authority,” will create a new financial “czar.”
He said its “egregious assault on the Constitution “will give the minister over-reach of power to appoint people to key TTRA board posts and give general policy directives.”
He said the “sting in the tail” of the bill includes where the TTRA’s director general can also get general directives from the board, “So the minister’s still in charge – the DG is a puppet of the board.’’
Mark said it was a recipe for corruption and nepotism and the UNC cannot support this. He said it’s dangerous for a TTRA to be subservient to the dictates of any government. He said a revenue officer has more power than a police officer in being able to make assessments for the public.
He projected that BIR staff will be fired and PNM party faithful will be put in charge in the TTRA on short term contracts.
Independent Senator Charisse Seepersad acknowledged Government revenue needed to increase. However, she recommended that the President – not the minister – should appoint TTRA board members.
Seepersad also advocated for a strong taxpayer bill of rights to be created to protect citizens.
She also called for training and retraining of staff as BIR service was poor to mediocre and not geared to being superior customer service.