Independent senator to BIR: Change culture of indiscipline


Members of the public wait to enter the Inland Revenue Division, Government Plaza, Port of Spain. File photo –

INDEPENDENT SENATOR Hazel Thompson-Ahye took the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) to task on Friday saying that the culture of indiscipline at the agency would negatively affect its ability to process taxes which would ease doing business in TT.

The senator spoke during the fourth meeting of the Joint Select Committee.

“As an administrator, I know you job is not an easy one. It is very difficult to change the culture, but unless we have people doing what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it, and how they are supposed to do it then TT is not going to move forward,” Thompson-Ahye said. “You have many good workers, but there are many who should be somewhere else.”

She called for a means to reward staff who are doing well and find mechanisms to properly discipline those who misbehave.

Responding to questions from the senator on disciplinary measures, Anna Burkett, revenue planning officer, Inland Revenue Division said disciplining bad staff can be tedious and sometimes it does not have any real effect.

“The process could be long and drawn-out, and there is no real consequence. Also new people who come into the position are not aware of the mechanisms that they have as supervisors and managers.”

“The board has attempted to send out reminders of ethical behaviours and work ethic but it really hasn’t had a real impact, and if managers do not follow the measures required staff has an advantage because you didn’t do what you were supposed to do.”

Burkett added that some staff members are unhappy because of a lack of receipt of increments which are used to increase pay and pay bonuses.

“That is a normal situation throughout the public service environment. Promotions are a long way coming, approvals for allowances long in coming. So yes, that would make people very unhappy to come to work and perform at their best.”

Thompson-Ahye also asked questions on what mechanisms are in place to report attempts to bribe officers, to which Burkett said the only mechanism was to report to their superiors.

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