Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is worried that the blacklisting of Barbados as a tax haven by powerful, rich countries could have a devastating impact on the island’s international reputation.
Expressing deep disappointment over the recent case involving the European Union (EU), Stuart today revealed that the region has a new case on its hands involving the District of Columbia where the U.S. capital, Washington, is located.
Addressing the opening of the 8th plenary of the Global Forum, Stuart noted that the issue with D.C. had arisen, despite “Barbados’ having in place a Double Taxation Agreement, a Tax Information Exchange Agreement, and an intergovernmental agreement to implement FATCA [Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act] and exchange tax information automatically with the USA”.
“Again, in order to minimize any fallout, we have had to divert our already limited resources from use for developmental purpose to deal with this unnecessary new distraction,” Stuart said, calling on the Global Forum to join the fight in addressing the issue.
“The recent publishing of a list by the European Union deeming 30 countries, including Barbados and others in the region as ‘non-cooperative’ and ‘tax havens’, once again highlights the concerns of the region regarding blacklisting by international organizations,” Stuart told the opening of the two-day meeting.
“This type of action can have a devastating impact on the reputation of our countries. It increases our risk profiles and affects our ability to retain or attract new investment and also has the potential to jeopardize the ease with which investors can access funding,” highlighted Stuart.
“As the current Chairman of the CARICOM Community, I should like to register our deep disappointment at the conduct of those in the European Union with whom we have several fora for dialogue, in this matter,” he added.
Stuart said intervention by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Global Forum “has mitigated the impact of the damage to the reputation of our countries caused by that blacklist”.
He said if there was anything positive to be taken away “from that unfortunate situation”, it was that it brought into “sharp focus the existence of ‘blacklists’ of which many of us were not aware”. “It brought into focus also the inconsistencies in the methods used to create and apply those blacklist,” added Stuart.
He said: “We strongly believe that the blacklisting of member countries of the Forum by other members of the Forum should have no place in the life and operations of this great institution. This appears to be in direct contradiction to the express purpose for which the Forum exists. It is my view that the Forum should not leave here this week without having come to a clear position on the way forward on this important issue.”