Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday jokingly advocated for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to consider placing international countries on a blacklist as he responded to the latest move by the European Union to include several Caribbean countries on a list of global countries considered to be tax havens.
“We always maintain in CARICOM that we do all what we have to do to ensure and assure the security of the world. People have to appreciate too that in our small jurisdictions there will always be certain capacity constraints…
“But I think CARICOM should start coming up with its own list too and start blacklisting countries likewise. Is that a practice we should take or route we should take,” he asked, telling reporters “I think I should end there, I think I should end here on this” as he laughed out loudly.
“But just to say, I think it is unfortunate,” he said.
Last weekend, the 15-member CARICOM grouping “strongly” objected to the move by the EU with CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque saying the decision by Europe had ‘been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria”.
Earlier this month, EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels named St Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago among a list of 17 countries considered to be global tax havens. They said the new list had been drawn up after 10 months of investigations by EU officials.
The ministers said the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes. Potential sanctions that could be enforced on members of the list are expected to be agreed in the coming weeks.
The EU said that as a first step, a letter will be sent to all jurisdictions on the new list, explaining the decision and what they can do to be de-listed.
LaRocque said that regional countries had been blacklisted even though they have not been so labelled by the relevant regulatory authorities such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.
“This decision by the EU has been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria, that go beyond the generally accepted international tax transparency and accountability standards which our countries have been diligently meeting over the past several years,” he said.
Prime Minister Skerrit, speaking at the daily news conference here since the September 18 passage of Hurricane Maria that destroyed the island, killing 29 people and leaving millions of dollars in damages, said his administration supported the CARICOM position even though Dominica had not been included in the list.
“My response is that of CARICOM’s response. While we were not mentioned we always maintained that it is unfortunate these institutions, these countries take these decisions about the well-being, welfare of our countries.
“These decisions, I don’t know if they don’t understand the implications for the economies of these countries. You get the sense that there’s no real sensible conclusion or basis upon which they came to these conclusions.