Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit today jokingly advocated for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to consider placing international countries on a blacklist as he responded to the latest move by the European Union (EU) to include Barbados and three other CARICOM states on a list of global countries considered to be tax havens.
“We always maintain in CARICOM that we do all what we have to do to ensure and assure the security of the world. People have to appreciate too that in our small jurisdictions there will always be certain capacity constraints.
“But I think CARICOM should start coming up with its own list too, and start blacklisting countries likewise. Is that a practice we should take or route we should take?” he asked, before telling reporters, “I think I should end there, I think I should end here on this” as he laughed out loudly.
“But just to say, I think it is unfortunate,” he said.
Two weeks ago the EU named Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago among a list of 17 countries considered to be global tax havens. The 28-country grouping said the new list had been drawn up after ten months of investigations by EU officials.
The EU finance ministers said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crackdown on offshore avoidance schemes. Potential sanctions that could be enforced on the blacklisted countries are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.
The 15-member CARICOM grouping last week “strongly” objected to the move by the EU, with CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque saying the decision had “been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria”.
Both Government and Opposition here have condemned the EU’s decision, with Minister of International Business Donville Inniss on Friday calling on the grouping to explain “what the problem is” that led to the country’s blacklisting.
Today, the ten-month-old United Progressive Party (UPP) described the EU action as “yet another attempt by the developed countries to keep developing countries down”.
UPP leader Lynette Eastmond said placing Barbados and the other Caribbean countries on the list was “highly discriminatory”, and another example of the “relentless efforts” by the EU and countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “to ensure they remain dominant in the service industries, despite the level playing field technology such as the Internet provides”.
As such, Eastmond suggested that CARICOM organizes a forum where its member states could agree a negotiating position to take to the OECD.
“There is no reason why CARICOM should not have a similar forum. It would make sense, as the Caribbean countries are the ones attacked the most. We can work with the OECD, but where necessary, we should be able to step out and negotiate our own position and then take it back to that forum,” she said.