PSA vows to take Revenue Authority matter to the Privy Council

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Leroy Baptiste –

PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) president Leroy Baptiste is vowing to take the matter of the TT Revenue Authority (TTRA) Act to the Privy Council.

Baptiste said in a phone interview on Tuesday that the association’s attorneys were immediately instructed to prepare to take the matter to the final appellate court on the advice of its Senior Counsel, Anand Ramlogan.

His statements were prompted by the announcement that the Court of Appeal dismissed the PSA’s challenge to the act’s implementation through one of its members, customs officer Terrisa Dhoray.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert promptly posted about the ruling saying on X (formerly Twitter): “The Court of Appeal just ruled unanimously that the TT Revenue Act is valid and constitutional and does not breach the constitutional rights of public officers.

“We can now move swiftly to improve and maximise revenue collection for the benefit of all our citizens.”

However, for Baptiste and the association it was always clear that the matter was a crucial one to TT’s democracy and would find its way to the Privy Council.

He said, “From the very start of this process, the association has always been clear that this is a matter – in the final analysis- we think it is important enough, it is crucial enough to our democracy it will find its way to the Privy Council.”

Tuesday’s ruling was not unexpected, he added.

There were four extensions for the act’s implementation, with the last being up to June 3.

Asked if the association was hoping for another extension, Baptiste said it was preferred by the association.

“We stand firmly in our position to what is happening, not only with TTRA but across the public service altogether,” he said.

The matter was larger than simply the revenue authority but about the insulation between the politician and public officer being removed, Baptiste said.

He said positions were not being filled in the public service and there was a proliferation of contract workers.

“Besides these workers are being exploited and they are unable to plan and organise their lives properly because they have no security of tenure.

“It also reeks with politicians being able to hire and fire people at their whims and fancy. When you walk into the public service you believe you are interacting with a public officer, you are not.

“On average you are interacting with someone on contract hired by the beck and call of a politician and that is an unfortunate development that is taking place in this country and we stand in full opposition to it all.

“TTRA is just about the beginning but we will find ways and means to oppose the exploitation of workers, not only for these current workers but the workers of the future.

“People have the right to be able to plan and organise their lives and to be insulated from politicians who come and go…,” he said.