Charles says US Ambassador "farce and out of place" on FATCA; asks if he is a closet PNM

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 15:45

UNC Member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles says outgoing US Ambassador, John Estrada is out of place to have made certain comments related to the FATCA controversy.

Charles issued a statement asking whether Estrada is a "closet" PNM as he chastises Estrada for his comments.

The following is Charles' statement:

"Outgoing ambassador Estrada seems to think that our country is some banana republic where we uncritically, without review, or detailed analysis support without question the dictates and impositions of our colonial masters, or "massas" as our founding father was wont to say.

This coming from a former diplomat whose very appointment as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago was held up for more than two years as his country's Senate exercised its right to critically review actions by the US Executive.

What is good for the goose, according to Ambassador Estrada's logic, is not good for the gander.

Ambassador Estrada is "farce and out of place" firstly to flout diplomatic conventions and engage frontally in our domestic affairs where one can based on his comments take the view that he supports one side of the political divide. Is Ambassador Estrada a closet PNM? Certainly this cannot be true.

Secondly he simplistically insults our intelligence by saying that those who asked for a review, as provided for by a Joint Select Committee, must have "cocoa in the sun" ignoring the fact that no one is against FATCA but many have called for a purposeful and comprehensive review of what it is, its implications for our country and the readiness of our institutions to comply with its mandates.

And thirdly he clearly lacks a full appreciation of our parliamentary processes and the fact that, as in the US, our legislature exists to ensure that only the best possible laws are enacted in the interest of all citizens.

Mr. Estrada fails to appreciate that, on the insistence of our legally elected opposition, appropriate procedures have been put in place to ensure that the FATCA legislation will be passed in time to comply with the mandates of his adopted country while at the same time ensuring that it is comprehensively reviewed by relevant interest groups in our country.

Is he aware for example that payment to the IRS by US citizens working in our country and earning TT dollars have to be paid in US and not TT dollars? If this is true, as I am sure it is, we have to understand fully the implications for our foreign exchange situation and put mechanisms in place to effect same.

What is disappointing in all this is the fact that Ambassador Estrada, as a Trini by birth, had all the goodwill to ensure that his posting was a success that it took our country forward, and it brought a balanced, nuanced and informed perspective to our deliberations on important issues.

He missed many golden opportunities to be a transcendental figure and that is most unfortunate.

We wish him well in his future endeavors."