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(PRESS RELEASE) – You may recall that when I first disclosed in Parliament that Saint Lucia was black-listed by the European Union as a non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes the government’s response was ignorance of the fact and then to make excuses and attack the opposition.
My response was Saint Lucia was blacklisted because of the negligence of the Chastanet Government. The Government had failed to give the necessary commitment to the EU that they would take corrective measures before December 2018 so as to cause Saint Lucia to be taken off the blacklist. Saint Lucia was not the only island on the blacklist, Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago were also included.
The Prime Minister and the Minister in the Ministry of Finance assured the country that Saint Lucia would take all the necessary steps to ensure that we would not remain on the blacklist. The Prime Minister claimed that he was unaware as to why Saint Lucia was included on the blacklist even if it was clearly stated that the island’s Based Erosion and Profit Strategy (BEPS) was the reason why we were blacklisted.
Last week news surfaced from Brussels that two islands Barbados and Grenada that were originally blacklisted with Saint Lucia would be removed but Saint Lucia would remain.
I immediately alerted the country and restated my original assertion that the Government had failed to take the necessary steps and continued its negligence in this very serious matter.
The government responded through its Director of Communications and said that discussions were being held with the EU and the matter contrary to opposition claims was a high priority for the Government.
On 12th January, 2018 a communique from the EU stated “since December 2017 several new commitment letters signed at a high political level by jurisdictions ……were received by the Code of Conduct Group. These letters were assessed and delegations agreed, through silence procedure that based on the specific commitments made through these letters the following jurisdictions should be removed from Annex I to Annex II of the Council’s conclusion.”
These jurisdictions included Barbados and Grenada meaning that they were removed from the blacklist but Saint Lucia remained because Saint Lucia did not show commitment at a high political level.
The question is why did the government of Saint Lucia not take the necessary steps like Barbados and Grenada to ensure that Saint Lucia’s reputation is protected? The answer is simple the government does not have its priorities right and engages in pettiness and vindictiveness while the important matters that would improve the economy and image of Saint Lucia are neglected.
Grandstanding, towards the United States and the EU threats, vindictiveness and intimidation by the government and its surrogates will not hide the negligence and incompetence of the Government. The reality of the blacklisting of Saint Lucia and the implications of the Leahy law will not disappear with idle talk or propaganda.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party pledges when in government to continue to take the matter of Saint Lucia’s reputation and financial integrity seriously and will take all necessary steps to ensure that the necessary attention is paid to these serious matters.
In the meantime, the Saint Lucia Labour Party is calling on the Government, once again, to take the necessary steps to ensure that Saint Lucia is removed from the European Union blacklist and financial integrity is returned to our jurisdiction.