(CMC) — The European Union (EU) Tuesday named The Bahamas as a tax haven, with the Hubert Minnis Government saying that it had done so “without discussion”.
Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest and the Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette travelled to Brussels ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the European Council of Finance Ministers “in an effort to engage the Code of Conduct Group and the EU Council directly”.
A government statement issued in Nassau noted that The Bahamas had taken note of the comments included in the EU statement “indicating a lack of commitment at the highest political levels; which is regrettable.
“The Bahamas Government through the Ministry of Finance has consistently been engaged with the EU’s Code of Conduct Group and has responded to its requests.
“Prior to today’s meeting, at the level of the deputy prime minister, The Bahamas reiterated its commitment by formal letter and is on schedule to meet the December 2018 deadline set by the European Council for implementation of the areas of concern indicated,” the statement said.
It said that Nassau remains committed to complying with international regulatory standards and initiatives and will continue to hold discussions with the EU “to determine how we can work together to ensure a better understanding and facilitation of the process to be removed from this listing in the shortest time possible”.
The EU has also named the US Virgin Islands to its blacklist of tax havens.
The finance ministers said they had also decided to remove Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and St Lucia from an earlier list that had also included American Samoa, Guam, Namibia, Palau, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago. The EU had earlier removed Barbados and Grenada from the list.
The EU finance ministers have also decided to add Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda to a so-called grey list of jurisdictions which do not respect EU anti-tax avoidance standards but have committed to change their practices.
The blacklist was set up in December, but Caribbean islands hit by hurricanes last year were given more time to adapt their tax practices to EU requests.
Earlier this month, the Caricom leaders who met in Haiti for the 29th inter-sessional summit called on their finance ministers and central bank governors of the region to meet “expeditiously” to consider new proposals as regional governments continue to react to decisions by Europe in listing some countries as tax havens.
The communiqué issued at the end of the summit noted that the proposals on a Caricom strategy had been prepared by a Technical Working Group.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told reporters that the regional countries were being “threatened” by the unilateral decision of the European Union to “blacklist” several islands even as the region has tried to comply with the necessary legislative requirements.
According to the communiqué, regional leaders “deplored” the significant reputational damage inflicted on member states from their inclusion in the list of ‘non-cooperative tax jurisdictions’ published by the European Union Council in December 2017 as well as other unilateral processes which label member states as “tax havens”.