Imbert: We now await the US Treasury's response to our request for an extension

Friday, September 23, 2016 - 19:00

Finance Minister Colm Imbert says he expects a reply from the United States' Treasury sometime next week on the Government's request for an extension of the deadline to become FATCA compliant.

The Minister told a news conference after the breakdown of the debate today, that the Government could not allow the bill to go to a vote and fail because it would have taken another six months before it could have been brought back to Parliament.

The debate fell apart after the Opposition walked out when House Speaker Bridget Annisette-George ejected both Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Princes Town MP Barry Padarath from the Lower House.

The sitting was then adjourned to September 30th, the date of the Budget and the deadline for FATCA compliance.

SEE ALSO: FATCA debate falls flat as Opposition walks out; will not be passed before September 30th deadline

Minister Imbert said it's now over to the US Treasury.

"As you know we have written to the US Treasury. I did that shortly after the meeting that we had with the Opposition on the 12th of September, just 10 days ago, and that was when it became apparent to us that they (the Opposition) were not prepared to give us any proposed amendments to the legislation," the Minister said.

He added: "When it became obvious to us that they (the Opposition) were not prepared to come up with anything in writing for us, we made the decision and I had a letter sent to the US Treasury explaining what was going on and asking for an extension. I expect to get a response to that letter sometime next week."

The Minister said that the Government was cognisant of what would happen if the bill was allowed to go to a vote without an assurance of Opposition support to attain the required majority. The bill needs 26 votes to be passed but the Government only has 23.

"One of the things we were not prepared to do was to allow this bill to go to the vote and fail because the Standing Orders are clear that if a bill is put to the vote and fails, it can't be brought back under six months," he said.

"So if we had allowed the Opposition to continue in the way they were behaving and we had decided to be reckless and put the matter to a vote today for example, it is obvious that they would not have voted for it, the bill would have failed and that would have sent an entirely wrong signal to the US Treasury," Minister Imbert added.

He continued: "So we've come to this stage where we requested an extension and we wait to see what the US Treasury has to say about that."