The passage in Parliament on Wednesday of three tax information exchange bills, won’t take T&T off the European Union’s blacklist yet, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said yesterday.
The three bills—the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill, Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill and Income Tax Amendment Bill—were passed in Parliament after three years, Al Rawi said.
They will now be sent to the Senate for debate.
The legislative package was needed to comply with conditions set by the Global Forum and European Union bloc to prevent tax evasion. T&T and other Caribbean states which hadn’t complied were been blacklisted by the EU.
Al Rawi accused the Opposition of delaying work on the bills. During Wednesday’s debate the Opposition, which supported the bills, suggested amendments which were accepted. However, the AG said they were minor amendments.
“We had agreed to those three years ago. I warned the Opposition Leader that the Global Forum may not accept one she submitted,” he said.
The AG said passage of the bills didn’t allow T&T to be removed from the blacklist but the process towards removal had started.
A few more steps have to be taken for removal, he added. These include meeting common reporting standards, meeting particular standards which include countering harmful tax practices and passing legislation for a special economic zone. The latter will be done as soon as possible, he added.
“We can move on it since the UNC has been beaten into fast-tracking this,” he said.
Yesterday UNC whip David Lee criticised Government for “pushing “ for passage of the package since they had admitted it won’t take T&T off the blacklist.