COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh has accused Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West of “terrorising” and “intimidating” staff at the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and Customs and Excise Division over the TT Revenue Authority (TTRA).
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He was contributing to debate in the House yesterday on a motion to adopt the report of the joint select committee on the TTRA Bill 2018.
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He said TTRA process would dismantle and destroy the BIR and Customs and Excise.
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He also reported his sources had told him that West had adopted a role as an “HR manager” and had been holding meetings with staff at the BIR and Customs and Excise.
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“Members of staff (have been) told if you do not accept what Government putting forward, the alternative is that you will be on the breadline. That is the role of the Minister in the Ministry of Finance – to terrorise and intimidate workers.”
He said a minister becoming involved in the cut and thrust of the industrial relations environment showed how dangerous the Government was. Indarsingh said the Opposition was signalling to all employees of BIR and Customs and Excise, “Do not trust this Government.”
West, responding to the accusation in a telephone interview, said she “did no such thing.” She reported a series of meetings was held with staff at both BIR and Customs and Excise to explain the ministry’s vision for the TTRA and what process was being taken to get there. She said it was indicated to staff that in the legislation, every member of staff has the option to stay in the public service, retire if they qualify, or come over to the TTRA.
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“Their jobs are secure, and that is legislated. I do not see how I could tell anybody we would fire them unless they come across.”
Indarsingh, in his contribution, said the Opposition did not support Government’s proposed revenue authority, as it placed too much power in the hands of the political directorate.
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He explained the Opposition disagreed with the discretionary powers of the finance minister in the bill and his appointment of people who would oversee the operations of the organisation