Colm Imbert

Finance Minister: Colm Imbert

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has said he would have to be out of his mind to recommend someone who was under investigation for tax fraud as chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR).

Imbert was winding up the budget debate in the House of Representatives when he defended his position to not recommend a particular candidate for the position of BIR chairman.

In doing so he said it was incumbent on him to put the facts involving the case a former assistant commissioner of the Board of Inland Revenue, Rohonie Ramkissoon, who sought a declaration from the High Court that Imbert acted illegally when he bypassed her for the position of BIR chairman. Imbert indicated that the Government intends to appeal this decision.

Imbert said Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal came to the House to “celebrate” over the judgment and he (Moonilal) was “very exuberant” in reading what had occurred.

He said since Moonilal misrepresented and distorted the facts and engaged in downright untruths about what happened in that matter, it was incumbent upon him (Imbert) to put the facts before the House.

He said it was recently determined that it was the responsibility of the Minister of Finance to make a recommendation to Cabinet for the position of BIR chairman.

“For some reason for many, many years it was assumed wrongly that that was the responsibility of the Public Service Commission,” he said. But, he said the law is clear that it was the Minister of Finance’s responsibility to make a recommendation to Cabinet which would then advise the President to issue the instrument in favour of whoever had been chosen by the Cabinet to be the BIR chairman.

“This responsibility fell to me recently because the substantial chairman of the BIR had retired,” he said. “I could have, as members opposite have done sometimes, gone to Cabinet without any reason whatsoever and just said ‘I recommend Miss A or Miss B be appointed to act as chairman of the BIR,” Imbert said.

He said, however, because of the importance of the position, he sought advice from senior counsel and was told that the best thing to do was to look at the four most senior persons within the organisation and make some enquiries and then interview each of them to arrive at a rational decision with respect to recommendation to the Cabinet.

Imbert said the matter was going to be tested by the Court of Appeal.

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