In a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Minister of International Business, Donville Inniss, discussed his trip to Brussels, Belgium, to meet with representatives of the European Union (EU) Commission in an effort to clear Barbados??? name as being an alleged tax haven.
The Minister and his team, comprising London-based consultant to the Ministry of International Business, Francois Hendy Yarde; and Foreign Service Officer, Nicholas Cox, also journeyed to Paris, France, where they met with the Head of Tax for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Head of the Global Forum.
In discussing the meeting with the EU, Mr. Inniss disclosed that overall, the meetings manifested a disconnect between the OECD and the EU on matters pertaining to tax policy, as well as the agenda that they were all seeking to pursue.
He said his team had a productive meeting with the European External Action Service, and met with the Director for the Americas; the Head of the Division for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean; and other senior staffers in that department.
???Fortunately for us, they were able to rope in senior staffers from other key departments within the EU Commission that we need to engage with. And, here again, we have asked for their support for the creation of a Secretariat for Financial Services in the region, as we are of the view that it should be located within the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
We also requested support for the establishment of an Institute for Financial Services, which is in partnership with the University of the West Indies,??? he stated.
Explaining that they would have to exchange correspondence and details on these matters going forward, the Minister added that there would be ???a new level of constructive engagement between the EU and the Caribbean, in particular Barbados, going forward.
???We wish to put this sorry state in terms of the blacklisting behind us and move forward towards expanding our treaty network and getting the technical support from the EU to help us build the structures that are necessary to support, develop and expand the Financial Services Industry in Barbados and the region,??? he affirmed.
Detailing that the remainder of the trip was spent in Paris where they met with the Head of Tax for the OECD, as well as the Head of the Global Forum, Mr. Inniss described the meetings as ???very useful???, in the sense that they would help Barbados to further plan for its response to the EU, and get a better understanding of EU/OECD relations.
???Now let me say when the EU came out with the blacklist, one of the first reputable international bodies to condemn it was the OECD, however, there is some disconnect between the OECD???s agenda and the EU???s agenda, in terms of compliance matters with tax policy and tax policy issues going forward. So, I would impress upon the OECD that they need to engage with the EU in Europe, so there can be some common understanding as to the rules of engagement for all of us,??? he urged.
The Minister continued that they were also privileged to have met with senior staffers in the Prime Minister of France???s office to discuss the role of the French government in international tax policy agenda issues. He added it was an opportunity for him to discuss further engagement with the French government and French investors in Barbados and the wider Caribbean, as they have over the years quietly been giving support.
???When you look at the Dominica response coming out of the hurricane recently, it is the French that have been providing some logistical support in military, transportation etc…
???One may say it may be a virtue of Dominica being close to Martinique and Guadeloupe, but the truth of the matter is that I am sensing that the French authorities are now willing to be more engaging with the Caribbean on the whole. And, certainly I emphasised to the representative in the Prime Minister???s Office, the fact that we have opportunities for inward investment in Barbados in some areas.
???We have French investment in Rubis, Mount Gay re: Remy Cointreau, and there are other French citizens and French-based entities that are quietly investing in Barbados. So, the French, I expect, will also be more engaging going forward.???
Meanwhile, Mr. Inniss also used the occasion to discuss the upcoming Global Forum, slated to come off month-end, October 28 to 30, when Barbados will play host to the Eighth Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. It is anticipated that over 250 persons will descend on our shores for this significant event.
In the third and final feature, the International Business Minister will discuss the upcoming Forum and the significance and rationale behind this country hosting this event.