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Tuesday 21 November 2017
Local

BIR present, Customs absent

PSA President Watson Duke making a point about implementation of the TT Revenue Authority, during a press conference at the union's head office, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain on November 8, 2017. PHOTO BY SASHA HARRINANAN

Three days after PSA President Watson Duke called on public servants both at Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and Customs and Excise Division to rest and reflect yesterday and today, it was business as usual at the BIR office.

However, at the Customs and Excise Division, a staff member told Newsday some senior officers did not show up for work.

The worker said the few workers who showed up were not working as they should.

“Hardly anyone one came out today and those who came out to work are not doing anything on the port. Down here, the senior officers who are supposd to do the screening, they did not come out to work. It have two junior officers on duty, and they don’t screen documents as far as getting containers out of the country...as far as operations on the port today, everything is on a go-slow.”

While Newsday was at BIR office on Queen Street, Port of Spain, yesterday, there was a steady flow of customers in and out, both upstairs and downstairs. Customers were seen being attended to by clerks, while some were seated in the lobby upstairs.

One BIR worker told Newsday a majority of the workers came out and customers did not experience any difficulties getting service yesterday.

“I am on my way to lunch, and to run an errand. Most of us came out to work and there was no problem or a go-slow here. I don’t see the sense of staying home, because it will prove nothing,” the worker said.

When contacted, Duke said it was too early to say whether the call to rest and reflect was a success or a failure. He said he would be having a press conference and a release would be issued to the media.

However, when Newsday contacted him to inquire about the release and the venue and time for the conference, calls to his cellphone went unanswered.

However, the Ministry of Finance issued a press release seeking to put to rest several concerns surrounding the Revenue Authority (TTRA).

The ministry said, over the past few months, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West, along with other officials, had held several discussions with the staff of the Inland Revenue Division and the Customs and Excise Division on the proposed implementation of the TTRA.

The ministry said some of the frequently asked questions included, “Will the employment of staff be secure? What will be the nature of the employment relationship in the TTRA? Will staff be entitled to leave?”

The ministry said all workers, including established, temporary, contract and daily paid workers, would have the option to move to the TTRA or remain in the Public Service on no less favourable terms and conditions. Also, workers who choose not to go to the TTRA will be redeployed into the Public Service. “Persons engaged by the TTRA will be employees of the TTRA and will enjoy the full rights and entitlements of employees under all the relevant laws,” it said, adding that all TTRA employees would be entitled to leave in accordance with the labour laws, including vacation, maternity and sick leave.

The ministry said discussions and engagement with all stakeholders, including staff, were ongoing.

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