The outgoing president of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) is not at all happy about the recent blacklisting by Barbados of some European Union (EU) states, which have branded the island as a non-cooperative tax haven that does not meet their standards of transparency and information exchange.
In fact, Connie Smith believes the move is nothing short of “hypocritical and grossly discriminatory”.
“I would certainly like to challenge the integrity of this new blacklist,” said Smith.
She also asked: “Do any of the EU member states have any major tax investigations with any companies domiciled in Barbados or have they made a request for any tax information that has not been provided?”
The BIBA official further noted that the island did not have any “active trading arrangements” with a number of the EU member states which have blacklisted it, including Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia and Bulgaria.
She further questioned “the partiality of the list when it comes to some of their own EU members”.
“First of all, it does not mention Luxemburg, Ireland or the Netherlands who are currently under investigation by the EU competition authorities for facilitating aggressive tax avoidance,” Smith pointed out, adding “it is alleged that Luxembourg, for example, had entered into 548 private tax rulings to allow over 300 of the largest companies in the world to avoid paying taxes in EU countries.”
However, the BIBA executive said this was “an ideal opportunity to reposition Barbados with those that considered it appropriate to tarnish us”.
“I would very much like to have Barbados enter into discussions with those EU member states who have so listed us, with a view of gathering details as to why they placed Barbados on a blacklist and what criteria they used to arrive at this assessment; and engaging in bilateral discussions which could hopefully conclude in double taxation agreements and bilateral investment treaties with a number of them,” she said.
Pointing out that there was support from a number of officials in the sector, as well as EU officials here, Smith said BIBA would continue to do its part in keeping the international business community informed of the regulatory environment, which was continuously being enhanced.
Smith said she believed the Global Forum meeting to be held in Barbados later this year would be “a grand opportunity to infuse that important global body with a better understanding of Barbados as a credible international business and financial services centre and the value it adds to global trade and to the economies of the developed world as the findings of Professor Walid Hejazi of the Rotman School of Business”.