Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin. (FP)

Statement by Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin

Today, representatives of the Ministry of International Business and Industry who are attending the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP) reported positive outcomes on Barbados’ review under the Action 5 of the BEPS Initiative.

The Director of International Business had updated the Forum on Barbados’ direction with respect to proposed amendments to its legislative regime. The FHTP Secretariat accepted the proposals by the Barbados team and urged Barbados to finalize the amendments. Barbados will report again in January 2019.

These positive outcomes are in line with Barbados’ expectations and our engagement with the FHTP is testimony to Government’s continuing commitment to the adherence of international standards and tax rules that promote transparency and fairness in global trade and commerce for individuals and businesses alike.

The Ministry is aware that yesterday the OECD published an article relative to the abuse in some instances of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) where individuals can exploit citizenship by investment programmes. At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.

However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such.

The Government forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD. These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion.

The representatives of the Ministry, who are currently attending meetings at the OECD, today engaged with officials of the OECD which published the report. The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list of jurisdictions as a “blacklist” is completely inaccurate. The Barbados delegation was also informed that a statement of clarification will be forthcoming from the OECD very shortly. Barbados is, therefore, under no obligation to take any measures to change its High Net Worth Individual Special Entry Permit regime.

Finally, Barbados is a member of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and has ratified the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Barbados has also implemented the CRS and is compliant with the international standard for the exchange of information established by the Global Forum.

Ministry of International Business and Industry

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