St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): With feeling running high within CARICOM over the European Union’s blacklisting of Caribbean countries dubbed uncooperative Tax jurisdictions, the regional grouping is accusing the EU of mounting an assault on the economies of Caribbean states.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRoque says quite a bit of time was spent on the issue at the CARICOM Inter-sessional held in St Kitts and Nevis last week.
“We had extensive discussions on the issue of blacklisting. The manner in which the European Union has taken it upon themselves to set certain criteria which go above and beyond criteria set by the OECD which is the recognized international body that looks at matters of tax and good governance. In particular, extremely concerned that the opportunity for dialogue with member states who are blacklisted or graylisted is almost non-existent. We feel that it is significant overreach into the sovereignty of member states and we go so far as to consider it, especially for those member states whose economy relies heavily on the revenue derived on the international business sector, an assault on the economic economies of these countries.”
Ambassador LaRoque says it is time that CARICOM makes its voice heard clearly on the Caribbean’s position on what’s turning out to be a continuing cycle of blacklisting by the Europeans.
“We raised this as well with the President of Estonia, Estonia being the member of the European Union and put a very strong case to Estonia, to the President, as well as we did when we were in Bucharest and we have laid out some strategies going forward. The almost arbitrary, you set one standard the member states seek to comply and then the goal post moves again, so we had a long and exhausting discussion on this matter. We are going to continue in our efforts at reaching out to the European Union and friendly countries out to countries outside of the European Union to build a case for this matter and there are other issues. One of the things I can say to you is that our member states are simply not going to be dictated to and do every time that the urban body says we must put something in place we roll over and do it. There comes a point when you have to say to them if you’re not going to have some meaningful dialogue if you’re not going to have some understanding on the circumstances in which we are then we’ll have to have recourse to other things. We are fourteen member states that collectively when we act together which is not infrequent can have a voice internationally. We’ve done it before and we are seeking to see how we can do this again.”
Secretary-General LaRoque says CARICOM has to make it clear that what he describes as the incursion in the sovereignty of the regional grouping’s member states is unacceptable.
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Timothy Harris also spoke against the EU’s approach to the tax matter.
“We don’t think it has the appeal of a democratic process, of a consensual process and we take exception to that matter and there is always, each there is one problem that problem is addressed by the next time there is a second and third problem. So the goalpost keeps shifting in a way that makes management of the industry difficult and creates uncertainty.”