FATCA Bill Causes Heated Debate in Parliament

(ZIZ News) — Tuesday’s sitting of the National Assembly featured heated debates on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (United States of America) (Implementation and Enforcement of InterGovernmental Agreement) Bill 2015.

Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, who sought leave to have the bill read a first and second time, was supported, very early, by his Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Mark Brantley.

Brantley, a lawyer by profession, put the bill in context and reminded that FATCA had been signed into account by United States President, Barack Obama since 2010 and St. Kitts-Nevis, like other countries was simply trying to keep apace.

“The truth is, Mr. Speaker, that when one has regard to the number of nations that have already acceded to and agreed to enforce domestically, the provisions of FATCA, one is looking at virtually all the major and minor nations of the world. Indeed in this very Caribbean, I count on my very list here, some nine Caribbean countries and territories which have already acceded to the FATCA regime. Mr. Speaker, I concur entirely with the mover that this is a clear demonstration by the government of St. Kitts and Nevis of its partnership with the United States of America in relation to tax matters,” he said.

Brantley then sought to show to the similarities between the FATCA Implementation and Enforcement of Inter-governmental Agreement Bill and other cooperation agreements already in existence.

“It is Mr. Speaker, no different to our cooperation in the context of our global forum, established under the OECD…It is no different Mr. Speaker, to the 37 Tax Information Exchange Agreements that we have already signed. These Mr. Speaker, are all indications of our willingness to cooperate regionally and internationally with the current framework of international engagement and we need to be clear Mr. Speaker, the world is changing,” he said.

Meantime, Opposition Parliamentarian, Hon. Konris Maynard called for a deeper analysis of the Bill, stating that it affects many nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“This act allows this government, through the financial institutions, to delve into the personal accounts of US persons and provide that information to the US authorities. All I am saying is that it is important that we explain this to our citizens and not rush over it and not get into the nitty-gritty and the details,” he said.

“With this type of intrusion Mr. Speaker, there are serious privacy issues that ought to be discussed as many of our citizens fall within the gambit of this law. Unlike the categorisation that the member from Number Nine gave, I know many ordinary Kittitians and Nevisians who will have their records scrutinized now by this government and that of the us government,” he added.

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