July 17, 2015
SVG on EU Tax Haven blacklist, ‘just plain wrong’ – PM

The appearance of St Vincent and the Grenadines on the European Union Tax Haven blacklist is “just plain wrong.”

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves expressed this view during a press briefing this week, during which he revealed that on July 8 he had {{more}}written to the commissioner of the European Commission, Pierre Moscovici, asking for a detailed explanation on the matter and a removal of this country from the blacklist.

The Prime Minister explained that the body to address the issue of non-cooperative jurisdictions, tax transparency and tax havens is the Organization of Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) not the European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union.

“They have what is called the global forum…on tax transparency. The formal name is the OECD Global Forum and Transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

We have been working with the OECD and we have been given a clean bill of health by them and they, in fact, have said that we are not a tax haven….”

The Prime Minister explained that St Vincent and the Grenadines was part of two peer reviews from the OECD Global Forum, which designated the multi-island state as “largely compliant.”

Furthermore, he revealed that in a letter to the executive director of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Global Forum said as an active member, SVG has demonstrated a continued commitment to cooperation with international community and implementation of national standards.

“This is evident by its successful phase one peer review in 2012 and phase two peer review report which was published in 2014, concluded that St Vincent and the Grenadines has an overall rating of largely compliant with a standard of exchange of information on request.”

Gonsalves said based on this response, including SVG on a list of tax havens was “unfair and unjust”.

According to the Prime Minister, being on such a list can negatively implicate the country, particularly if business persons, who are not aware of the true situation, decide on the basis of the list not to do business in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You see, these people do these things and as a small country, it smears you for absolutely no reason whatsoever and then you have reputational damage that you have to correct….”

A number of other Caribbean islands are also listed on the EU Tax Haven blacklist.

Gonsalves noted that the outgoing and incoming chairs of CARICOM have also written a letter to EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, asking him to respond with details on the matter. (BK)