BIR commissioner takes Finance Minister to court

Finance Minister Colm Imbert. -
Finance Minister Colm Imbert. -

AN acting commissioner of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) has received the green light from the court to challenge a decision of the Minister of Finance which saw her being twice bypassed for appointment as chairman the division.

Justice Margaret Mohammed on Friday granted Rohonie Ramkissoon, a field auditor and acting commissioner of the BIR, leave to pursue her judicial review claim against the minister.

She is challenging a March 10 decision by the minister not to recommend her for the position of chairman of the BIR on the basis of a “concern” he had arising out of an investigation.

Ramkissoon contends she was bypassed for appointment on the basis she knew of an investigation which she was not the subject of. She said the decision was unlawful, arbitrary and done in a procedurally unfair manner without giving her an opportunity to be heard.

She wants a declaration that the decision not to recommend her was unlawful, null and void and will be seeking an order to have the court quash the decision.

Ramkissoon will also seek an order compelling the minister to reconsider her for the position.

The BIR is comprised of five commissioners, one of whom is appointed by the President, on the advice of the Cabinet, as chairman.

Her lawsuit contends an acting chairman was appointed effective January 4, and her attorneys wrote to the President, asking for reasons and criteria by which Boodoosingh was appointed given that she was appointed ahead of four commissioners who were more senior and experienced.

Similar requests were made to the ministry.

On February 1, the director of legal services in the Office of the President responded, confirming that during her term of office the President made no appointments to the office of the chairman of the BIR.

Ramkissoon’s attorneys then wrote the permanent secretary again, bringing the information received from the Office of the President to the ministry’s attention.

The January 4 memo announcing the new acting chairman was rescinded and Ramkissoon was invited for an interview with the minister for the position of chairman.

Her lawsuit said she was questioned about an investigation into proposed tax refunds to two companies, and she acknowledged she was aware of a previous investigation involving the two entities but that was resolved.

It said no specific allegation was raised against her nor was she told she was the subject of an investigation

Again, in March, she was told another recommendation was made to the President and that the minister was unable to recommend her because of concern arising out of the VAT refund investigation.

She was told when it becomes necessary to make a further appointment to the position of chairman, she would be considered subject to the outcome of the investigation. After again writing to the permanent secretary, she was told the new appointment made in March was a temporary one, for only six months, and when the time came, she would be considered pending the outcome of the investigation and any further interview.

She says she was unfairly treated since she was not told what the allegations against her were or even given advanced notice of what concerns the minister had that would prejudice her chances of being appointed.

Ramkissoon intends to argue that even if the minister considered she was the subject of an investigation, or was a person of interest, he should have warned her he would be holding an inquiry during the interview.

Ramkissoon is represented by attorneys Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon and Kristy Mohan.


"BIR commissioner takes Finance Minister to court"

More in this section