MINISTER of International Business Donville Inniss is contending that Barbados being named in a new list of global tax havens, released by the European Union (EU) on Tuesday, is extremely unfortunate and unfair.
Addressing the media during a press conference at his Warrens office yesterday, Inniss said he was finding it difficult to understand how Barbados could have been included on the list, since he was recently in direct engagement with the EU Code of Conduct Group (COCG) over the past months. He said Barbados’ work with the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP) is also well documented.
The outspoken Minister stated forcefully that Barbados is not a non-cooperative jurisdiction in taxation matters or any other matter, but rather remains cooperative but true to the country’s ideals and policies as a sovereign nation striving to be the International Jurisdiction of choice.
“With respect to the way forward, Barbados will dispatch a detailed correspondence to the EU requesting an urgent review of their rather unfortunate listing. Secondly, being mindful that our region will continue to be under scrutiny and attacks from other regional groupings an multinational organisations, Barbados will once again request a regional dialogue on the matter with the goal of establishing a high-level regional team of experts to engage with external parties on behalf of the region.
“We really expect that CARICOM will take the lead on this matter. Thirdly, we will engage all our officials and private sector partners to continue to educate our multinational partners on these issues,” he said, as he outlined the way forward.
Inniss made it clear that Barbados is a jurisdiction that has always valued good international relations from Latin America to Europe to the African continent, and at the same time mentioned that it is important to note that Barbados has tax treaties in force with ten of the 28 EU member countries, including the United Kingdom.
He also explained that Barbados has completed its ratification of the Development Trust Association (DTA) with Portugal, Slovak Republic and Cyprus, respectively and is awaiting official notification from them on the DTAs to enter into force. Barbados is awaiting signature of a DTA initialled with Belgium.
“It should also be noted that Barbados has a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) in force with Denmark and is also awaiting signature of similar initialled Agreements with France and Germany, respectively.
“Consequently Barbados has committed to signing the Multi-lateral Instrument in a signing ceremony in Paris on January 24, 2018. Through the IBD, there has been a concerted effort to ensure that Barbados is a well-regulated, transparent jurisdiction of substance.
“This is precipitated by a harmonious relationship with the Service Providers, which has resulted in the cancellation on November 27, 2017 of the licenses of six International Business Companies on grounds of public policy,” Inniss said.
On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the Council of the European Union, through its Code of Conduct Group, approved and published conclusions containing an EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions in taxation.
EU finance ministers said that Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago were among the 17 countries on the blacklist of tax havens, after ten months of investigations by EU officials. Inniss said since the list was released, he had spoken to a few of his counterparts in the other Caribbean territories blacklisted and indicated that they too were shocked at the development.
In the report of the General Secretariat of the Council “The EU List of Non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes”, Annex 1 page states that, “Barbados has a harmful preferential tax regime and did not clearly commit to amending or abolishing it as requested by December 31, 2018. Barbados’ commitment to amend or abolish other harmful tax regimes in line with criterion 2.1 will be monitored.” The foot note states that the report is “on the basis of the responses received by December 4, 2017; 17:00 (UTC+01:00)”. (AH)