Sunday 26 May, 2019

UNC PRO slams AG, denies Opposition's 'refusal' to support Bills

The United National Congress (UNC) is denying claims that the Opposition refused to support bills proposed by the Government.

UNC PRO Anita Haynes issued a statement on Monday stating that the Opposition did not decline to support bills but rather called for its improvement before doing so.

Haynes said any comment which says otherwise is untrue.

“The Attorney General’s recent accusation that the Opposition is not supporting certain bills is a complete fabrication. The Opposition supported each of the bills mentioned by the Attorney General often after rigorous debate and strengthening of laws to protect citizens’ rights. Once again, Mr Al-Rawi is a stranger to the truth and is engaging in a desperate attempt to try to deflect attention from his incompetence.”

Haynes accused AG Al-Rawi of being intentionally deceptive in accusing the Opposition of refusing to support key pieces of legislation including the Anti-Gang, FATCA, Child Marriage and Income Tax Amendment Bills, and the Sexual Offenders Registry.

She said a simple fact check would show that the Opposition:

- Raised a number of concerns regarding the Anti-Gang Bill and proposed critical amendments which were included, and after rigorous debate, we supported this legislation.

- Proposed and got agreement for amendments to the FATCA legislation with gave the public a right to know. This after the legislation was examined thoroughly in a Joint Select Committee which the Opposition lobbied for.

- Has made it clear that it supports the Sexual Offenders Register Bill in principle. However, it is clear that further consultations are needed since at least 14 non-governmental organizations have indicated interest in providing feedback on the Bill. In this regard the legislation was sent to a Special Select Committee to facilitate this.

- Voted for the Marriage Bill.

The UNC PRO said the Opposition has always maintained that it would support good law that seeks to uphold and protect the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the same applied to the Income Tax Amendment Bill.

 Haynes further accused the AG of bungling and butchering the legislative process to the point where the result was a Bill without the ability to satisfy any of the legislative aims for which it was proposed.

She noted that last week, the European Union listed Trinidad and Tobago among 23 states with weak anti-money laundering regimes which pose terror financing risks. She said the AG pushed through watered down legislation to give the appearance that the Government was taking measures to meet international requirements. Haynes added that he then attacked the EU for taking this step.

“After the Attorney General’s chaotic mismanagement of the bill, Trinidad and Tobago has somehow been deemed as being more non-compliant than we were before the passage of the legislation. The Opposition was prepared to work to produce a piece of legislation that would have satisfied the legislative aim of the legislation and would have struck the right balance between the rights of the citizen and the legislative objective. This could only have been properly achieved by this bill being considered alongside the other two pieces of legislation that were before the Joint Select Committee originally. ”

The UNC PRO is calling on the AG and Government to stop deflecting, stop trying to lay blame elsewhere and “do their job”.

“Trinidad and Tobago is in need of sound and effective leadership, which this PNM Government is incapable of providing. The time has come for this failing Government to step down and let people elect a leader and team that can effectively manage our country’s affairs, and get Trinidad and Tobago working again.”

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