The Revenue Authority, which was first brought to the table by the then Patrick Manning administration, was quashed because Manning got cold feet.
This was the view expressed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert during the CNC3 Morning Brew programme yesterday.
“The Manning administration eventually around 2008-2009 started the processs of establishing the Revenue Authority,“ he said. ”But the administration got cold feet because of the reaction. I would say that was not well handled. The issue of job security became the main issue. Our administration got scared and backed away because of the potential industrial relations conflict. Mister Manning was calling a snap election at the time and he felt it was an issue he did not want to go into an election with.”
Imbert said when the People’s Partnership assumed office, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, as prime minister, promised she would not implement the Revenue Authority.
“I would have to say for populist reasons they didn’t, so we lost that five years. We have now come in and we are picking back up the pieces and we are pressing on.”
The authority would see the merging of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and Customs and Excise to make the tax collection system more efficient.
He said the Revenue Authority would automatically increase tax revenue to $5 billion, about three per cent of the GDP.
“Guyana, Barbados and Jamaica have all gone ahead with plans for a Revenue Authority and were moving ahead. The first thing the current structure cannot do is share information. There is a section of the Income Tax Act that prohibits the BIR from sharing information with other authorities. The law was not intended to work that way, it was intended to prevent disclosure of personal information with respect to income tax.”