(SNO) — With Saint Lucia under pressure from the European Union (EU) to amend or abolish a regime which gives foreign companies and their employees certain tax exemptions, the Allen Chastanet-led government is said to be in discussion with the organization on the matter.
Nicole McDonald, senior communication officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the island stands by what it has been doing so far, however it doesn’t want to end up on any EU-sanctioned blacklist.
“We continue to be open to dialogue and discussing with the EU on ensuring that Saint Lucia doesn’t end up on any blacklist,” she told HTS.
Earlier this month, the EU’s Code of Conduct Group wrote to Chastanet expressing concerns over amendments made to the International Business Act.
The amendments give foreign companies and their employees tax exemptions ranging from zero to to one percent of their income, in stark contrast to local businesses which have pay up to 30 percent in taxes to the government.
The EU is concerned that this may cause foreign companies and individuals to evade taxes or hide their assets.
The organization described such measures as “harmful” and told the government that the regime should be either abolished or amended by December 31, 2019, or the island could be placed on the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions.
But according to McDonald, Saint Lucia is standing by what it has been doing so far but dialogue continues.
“We stand by what we have been doing so far and we stand by the direction we want to take the sector in a certain way,” she told HTS. “We want to ensure though that both local and foreign investors can benefit from the same types of incentives.”
On the matter of foreign investors paying zero to one percent on taxes while Saint Lucian companies paying up to 30 percent, McDonald said this too is being looked at.
“That’s one of the things we are looking at right now, yes, that is one of the things we are looking at,” she remarked.
In the meantime, McDonald pointed out that discussions continue on the matter.
“What I am saying is that we are in discussions with them on that,” she stated. “Dialogue is going to continue, I can’t state right now what the final decision will be on that.”