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(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Prime Minister of St Lucia, Allen Chastanet, has described as “bullying” the blacklisting and designation of some Caribbean countries as tax havens by the European Union (EU).
“I believe it is bullying, at a minimum, and it’s blackmail because the countries have been accused of something in which there has not been a day in court,” Chastanet asserted.
In a recent Gleaner interview, the St Lucian prime minister indicated that the heads of government of the Caribbean Community should not be passive about this issue that could result in reputational damage to regional states.
“The heads [of government] will adopt a strategy and a way forward to be able to fight anybody or any institution or country that in any way tries to undermine the reputation of the region and our people. We must do a better job of fighting back,” he declared.
“Today, the blacklist is for financial services, tomorrow the blacklist might be for tourism or something else and, so, we have to always fight the idea of a blacklist.”
He reasoned that the same principle of democracy and rule of law that Europe defends is apparently being breached by their own actions. “The fact is that on this particular situation of financial services, the Caribbean doesn’t even make it into the top 25, so there is an inherent unfairness to what has been done and the reputational damage that has been imposed on our region.”
Late last year, European finance ministers had said that Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago were among 17 countries on the blacklist of tax havens, after 10 months of investigations by EU officials.
Caribbean countries have been very critical of being designated as tax havens, arguing that they have done everything required by various European organisations like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.