THE Public Services Association (PSA) has taken legal action against the government to overturn and challenge the Revenue Authority Act and the appointment of a private consultant as National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) director.
PSA president Leroy Baptiste told the media at his Abercromby Street, Port of Spain office that these legal proceedings came after several letters to executives of NLCB and the government went unanswered.
The PSA claims the Ministry of Finance appointed an external consultant who is providing financial services to the NLCB to head the organisation.
He added, “The office of the director and deputy director of NLCB falls under the jurisdiction of the Statutory Authorities Service Commission. This commission is responsible for making these appointments, and the Government is not entitled to usurp the authority of the commission to make such appointment.”
The commission’s term expired on May 18 and government is yet to appoint a new commission.
Baptiste described the move to appoint a new director in the absence of a commission as “a flagrant violation and serious breach of the rule of law which requires there must always be a functioning commission in existence."
He further accused the government of creating a void “to steal a march on the workers and members of the PSA by moving to illegally appoint a non-public officer to run the NLCB” and to “take advantage of the rights of innocent workers.”
On August 2, the PSA filed an application for leave for judicial review to challenge the illegal conduct of the Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert) and the government following this move.
On August 12, Justice Carol Gobin granted leave and deemed it fit for an urgent and expedited hearing. The court is expected to fix a date for the hearing of the matter soon.
The claim filed before the Supreme Court declares the act is void and inconsistent with the Constitution and its implementation threatens to infringe the rights of employees.
TT Revenue Authority Act allows for the removal of the Board of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Division and replaces it with a TT Revenue Authority (TTRA) to oversee the collection of taxes and management of customs.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on December 17, 2021, without the support of the opposition.
Baptiste said the union will not allow the government to “trample on the rights of workers. We demand justice, equity and accountability. We call upon the Government to check itself before it’s too late.”
Minister in the Finance Ministry Brian Manning could not be reached for comment.