TWENTY-NINE Senators voted Tuesday night to repeal the Tax Information Exchange Agreement act in favour of the Tax Information Exchange Agreement United States of America act. There was one abstention, by Senator Stephen Creese.
Just after 9 p.m., the Senate took the final vote on the new Act, with Finance Minister Colm Imbert promising to have the minor typos corrected as soon as possible.
The new act details an agreement between T&T and the United States, which provides for the exchange of information for the purposes of taxation, the validation of the sharing of personal information held by the local Board of Inland Revenue and other financial institutions.
In wrapping up the debate at the Parliament Chamber in Port of Spain, Imbert thanked the Opposition for its support in passing the altered act, accepting that there were some areas in the previous TIEA that needed improvement.
"I agree that there were some small points in the legislation, small points, little points that we have dealt with in the exercise. What I am happy about is that we are able to reach consensus," Imbert conceded with a laugh.
"But at the end of the day, Parliament is here to pass laws, forget the old talk and the fighting that goes on. It goes without saying that the laws must be good," Imbert said.
"This is all about practical business sense, if we don't do it, we lose correspondent banking," Imbert said.
Imbert thanks Ramdeen, Al-Rawi
He also thanked Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi for his "yeoman service" and also credited Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen as being the only member of the Opposition that "took the job seriously".
"When we sat and met with the others, it was just talk," he said.
He said it was Ramdeen that came with written submissions to help the committee.
"Finally Senator Ramdeen started to put things in writing in the committee and we were able to start the closure on this matter," Imbert said.
He said sometimes, Ramdeen would present a document at 4 p.m and by 9 a.m, Al-Rawi would have an answer to every single point. "I was amazed," he said.
"I think we talked enough on this legislation, we've talked it to death," Imbert said, before moving the motion to pass the Act.