Public Services Association (PSA) president Leroy Baptiste says the union will be seeking a further stay on the implementation of the TT Revenue Authority as it commits to taking its challenge on the constitutionality of the TTRA Act to the Privy Council, if necessary.
The PSA’s intention to seek a further stay on the implementation of the TTRA was made known in a statement from the president on Friday, hours after a High Court judge held the act was constitutional.
On Friday. High Court Judge Westmin James dismissed the case brought by the PSA through its member, customs officer Terrisa Dhoray.
The lawsuit contended specific segments of the legislation were unconstitutional, as they sought to interfere with the terms and conditions of employment of public servants currently assigned to the Customs and Excise Division and the Inland Revenue Division.
It was further argued that the Government did not have the power to delegate its tax-revenue collection duties.
However, the judge said the TTRA was “meant to be a semi-autonomous revenue authority. “
“The TTRA being an agent of the government for the assessment and collection functions with oversight of the minister, a member of the Executive, the executive function related to this aspect of taxation has not been removed from central government.”
He also held that the enforcement provisions of the act did not give the Finance Minister and the TTRA board the power of appointment, removal and disciplinary control over the public officers exercising their enforcement powers.
“Those powers over public servants remain with the Public Service Commission under the act.”
In his statement, Baptiste said it noted the court’s ruling on the status of public officers.
“The issues are of fundamental public and constitutional importance because they concern the Government's ability to whittle down the public service and transfer officers into a statutory corporation under its control.
“The Constitution is an important check and balance on the exercise of rampant government power. We view the TTRA as an encroachment of the rights of workers in the public service and a violation of the Constitution.
“We have therefore instructed our attorneys to appeal this judgement and seek a further stay of the implementation of the TTRA to allow justice and due process to take its course.
“The PSA recommits itself to protecting, defending and vindicating the rights of workers and will leave no stone unturned in its quest for justice,” Baptiste said.
Initially, section 18 of the legislation, which President Christine Kangaloo proclaimed on April 24, gave public servants three months to decide on their future employment on the operationalisation of the TTRA. Affected public servants have the choice to resign from the Public Service, accept a transfer to the TTRA, or be transferred to another office in the Public Service.
However, the July 31 deadline for public officers to exercise their options under the act was extended to November 30.