A HIGH COURT judge has deemed urgent an injunction application by the Public Services Association (PSA) to halt the operations of the TT Revenue Authority, including the recruitment of staff.
Justice Betsy Ann Lambert-Peterson will hear arguments for and against granting the injunction on June 2.
On Monday, she deemed the PSA’s application urgent.
The application was filed on May 8 to stop the implementation of section 18 of the TTRA Act, which specifically deals with the enforcement division of the TTRA.
By legal notice on April 14, President Christine Kangaloo proclaimed certain sections of the TTRA with effect from May 1.
In its application, the union said one of its members had filed a constitutional motion on July 19, 2022, to challenge the constitutionality of the TTRA, but while that claim was pending, the Government chose to partially proclaim the TTRA Act.
The injunction application seeks to have section 18 stayed pending the hearing and determination of the constitutional claim, as well as an order suspending the date of operationalisation of the TTRA.
In support of the application, PSA president Leroy Baptiste said the power to appoint certain public officers was vested in the Public Service Commission, and the effect of the TTRA Act transfers that power to the minister or the authority’s board.
He also said the act would give the minister or the board the power to remove or disciplinary public officers. It is the union’s position that the act had the effect of devolving functions of the government to hand-picked employees who would not be public officers or enjoy the protections of the Constitution.
It is primarily for these reasons the PSA contends the act is unconstitutional.
In its certificate of urgency, the attorney for the PSA, Vishaal Siewsaran, said there would be no prejudice to the Government if the operationalisation of the TTRA were suspended, since the State can still collect taxes and revenue as it always has within the existing legal framework.
He said what the partial proclamation did was to force employees at the Inland Revenue Division and the Customs and Excise Division, who are most affected, to decide by August 1 if they wished to join the TTRA or not.
The PSA said in a statement these public officers will have to either voluntarily retire from the public service; transfer to the TTRA with approval from the relevant service commission; or remain in the public service in a similar position, if one is available.
It said the proclamation came like a “thief in the night,” while its application says there are still many unresolved questions over employees’ jobs.
The PSA is led by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Natasha Bisram, Kent Samlal and Robert Abdool-Mitchell.