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Tuesday 18 September 2018
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Charles: Govt fails in foreign affairs

Naparima MP Rodney Charles

Naparima MP Rodney Charles is berating the Government’s lack of action and leadership in 2017, calling it a year of failure in foreign affairs.

In a release yesterday, Charles berated the Government for several reasons, including the country’s status remaining “non-compliant” in this year’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) annual report on international tax transparency standards.

He noted that the report, Brief on the State of Play on International Tax Transparency Standards, said, “Trinidad and Tobago underwent a fast-track review but was unable to demonstrate sufficient progress to warrant a provisional upgrade in its ratings and it remains ‘non-compliant.’”

He said Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and 14 other countries were upgraded based on fast-track reviews while fellow Caricom countries Barbados, and Saint Lucia were upgraded based on full peer reviews. He said it was a shame the TT was not upgraded while Nauru, a country in the Central Pacific with a population of 13,000, was able to demonstrate “significant” progress while TT did not.

“Finance Minister Colm Imbert, AG Faris Al-Rawi, and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses should hold their heads in collective shame,” Charles said. “This lethargy, lack of political will, sheer laziness, shamelessness, ineptitude, and massive incompetence have disturbingly come to characterise this Keith Rowley administration with no discernible plan to take us forward.” Charles believed this attitude was displayed with the Caricom countries divided votes on the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution against the US for its recent decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He questioned whether a census was taken and lamented past years when TT took a leadership position in Caricom, often championing positions on various issues.

“In 2017 we were among the very last Caricom nations to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement even though in 2013/14 our own Kishan Kumarsingh co-chaired meetings in Bonn, Warsaw, and elsewhere that laid the groundwork for that landmark agreement. At the end of 2017, under Dennis Moses, we are largely seen as irrelevant, insignificant, missing in action, reactive, and lacking policy coherence and dynamism on the global stage.”

He lamented all diplomatic appointments by the Government except Brussels, saying they were all political.

He seemed especially disappointed in the new ambassador to the UN in Geneva, calling her a “relative neophyte” and the appointment as a “major blow to the morale of the public servants in the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs.”

He then mentioned the “diplomatic humiliation” of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s invitation to a meeting of world leaders in Beijing being withdrawn.

“Add frequent negative visitor advisories, an unregulated refugee crisis, returning ISIS fighters, indiscretions by Cabinet ministers, emailgate, a fake oil scandal, escalating crime, the inter-island transport debacle, FX shortages, record murder rates, and a judiciary in disarray; reports of which would necessarily have been included in briefs to their respective capitals by foreign missions based in PoS. 2017 was indeed a year we would all wish to forget.”

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