Imbert slams UNC's political hypocrisy on tax amnesty

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

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert slammed the Opposition UNC for attempting to mislead the population about measures in the 2022/2023 budget which they claim to oppose now but wholeheartedly supported when they were in office between May 2010 and September 2015

He made these comments before the House of Representatives passed the Finance Bill 2022 on Friday. The bill will be debated in the Senate when it sits from 10 am on Tuesday.

Referring to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar calls for tax amnesties to be approved by negative resolution by Parliament, Imbert said the facts showed that Persad-Bissessar and the UNC did not support this view in 2011 and 2014, when they were in government.

He reminded MPs that no such resolution was sought in May 2011, when then finance minister Winston Dookeran extended a tax amnesty that began in September 2010.

Imbert said in September 2014, then finance minister Larry Howai publicly said government implemented a tax amnesty because of "calls from the business community."

He added this proved that UNC claims of tax amnesties under the PNM were aimed at "giving someone a bligh" were false.

"Political hypocrisy."

Imbert was amused by Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo's comment that the UNC did not like his body language.

He wondered if the UNC would be happy if he were to dance or jump up and down.

After briefly raising his hands in the air and swaying from side to side at the podium, Imbert told opposition MPs he would not oblige them.

"I'm a serious minister. I do not engage in antics. If you don't like my sombre, professional approach, too bad!"

Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George overruled Barataria/ San Juan MP Saddam Hosein's complaint that Imbert was disturbing UNC MPs by speaking too loudly.

Imbert said UNC MPs knew he had "no control over the volume in this microphone (in front of him."

He also told them to be quiet, listen and learn something.

Shortly after Imbert made that comment, Annisette-George instructed St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen to leave the Parliament Chamber, after she made an inaudible remark.

Earlier in his contribution Imbert told Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar she was misled by her members into believing there were grounds for legal action to be taken against the Government over the implementation of property tax.

In her contribution, Persad-Bissessar claimed the implementation of property tax could be unlawful and said the UNC was ready to go to court on this matter. She thanked osein for helping her research information for her contributions.

Imbert said, "I'm a little embarrassed to tell a senior counsel to update her records."

Government MPs thumped their desks when he said, "Whoever the honourable member relied upon for research, misled the honourable member. I would advise you to be careful who you seek advice from."

Imbert said Persad-Bissessar, and whoever her researcher was, seemed oblivious to the existence of a legal notice dated August 20, 2021.

In that notice, he said, then acting President Christine Kangaloo said the Data Protection Act will come into effect on such a date "as fixed by the President."

Imbert said in the notice, Kangaloo indicated certain sections of the act which allowed the sharing of information between the ministry's valuations division and other entities (such as the Board of Inland Revenue) regarding property tax were proclaimed into law on August 23, 2021.

"Therefore the relevant sections of the Data Protection Act were proclaimed over one year ago."

Persad-Bissessar earlier claimed that property tax could not be implemented because the act was not proclaimed and people's privacy could be infringed.She threatened the UNC could go to court on this matter.


"Imbert slams UNC’s political hypocrisy on tax amnesty"

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