More than US$20 million in revenue is at risk as a result of new tax measures in Canada, which affect subsidiaries of Canadian financial institutions operating in this jurisdiction.
That figure was put forward in the House of Assembly this evening by Leader of Opposition Business Kerrie Symmonds, who said about 12 high net worth Canadians with operations here were helping to generate that revenue.
In March, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced that at least two locally-based foreign companies had shut down or shifted operations as a result of the decision by Canadian authorities.
Symmonds said it was worrying that Barbados appeared to be coming under sustained attacks from countries, which historically, have been its closest allies and partners.
“The constant slide that we are facing is obviously going to place the capacity of the international business sector to be a successful piece of machinery to lead us out of a recessionary trend, in great jeopardy,” he said, urging “a carefully diagnosed response” from Government.
The attorney-at-law, who practises corporate law, cautioned that if there was not a political response then the administration should continue on its course of fully exploiting its reputation as a treaty-based jurisdiction.
“I give the Minister [Donville Inniss] all of my support because I think that is where we need to go. It helps for us to aggressively diversify Barbados’ product offering and Barbados’ presence in the global marketplace, and into new and emerging markets if we are going to expand the network of our double taxation treaties.”
Earlier in the sitting, Minister Inniss informed the House that the island has in force 34 double taxation agreements with other countries, allowing for avoidance of taxes across jurisdictions.
These states include Britain, Canada, Finland, Norway and Switzerland.
In his contribution, Symmonds also spoke about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which Government has said it will sign with the United States.
The Opposition spokesperson said he was very concerned that Government may have been “a little too hasty”.
While noting that it may be too late now, he said the country could have partnered with Canada, which had put forward a “fair and persuasive argument” on the matter.
“Canada sought to put up resistance to the FATCA . . . and Canada’s position was that ‘you can’t ask us as a sovereign state to be the tax collector for the United States of America, collecting revenue on behalf of the USA from American citizens in our jurisdiction’,” Symmonds said.