WILD COOT: Hope dashed?
I HAD HOPED that at the end of the two days’ retreat enjoyed by the Government at the Crane Resort, an announcement would have been forthcoming. I had hoped that they would have dealt with the impending reply to FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). I had hoped that the silence would have been broken. I had hoped, but were my hopes dashed?
I presume then that it was discussed, and a plan of action formulated so that our banks can be assured that a government will fight tooth and nail to forestall any adverse consequences.
Fortuitously, a fly on the wall where the participants were busy at a table during a luncheon break overheard some fellow saying: “That Wild Coot only causing my blood pressure to rise. I don’t even have any pills here with me. Why he is going on and on about the harm that our banks will encounter? Look, we have the Central Bank to protect us and they not saying anything.”
Before we go any further, let me give my informant a name as everybody likes to claim anonymity. Mrs Fly. She flew off the wall and kept buzzing in a fellow’s ear. “Tell them about our double taxation treaties that started on the advice of our first central banker back in the ’70s.
“Tell them that while Uncle Sam has an agenda to protect, our country also has an agenda to promote. Tell them, and tell them that we too have an economy, that we are trying, fighting, putting in place legitimate ways to woo investors to take advantage of a well-educated, law-abiding workforce. Is not that why Uncle Sam is trying to attract the best to Silicon Valley? Does not Uncle Sam realise that 98 per cent of its people are immigrants?
“Now that they have acquired US citizenship, are they pulling up the ladder and denying others an opportunity, then stretching the hand abroad to seize whatever scraps they can? Is Uncle Sam still claiming to be a Christian society and unaware of Leviticus 23:22? We in Barbados are the aliens.
“Rather than try to bully others, we set up Invest Barbados and go abroad encouraging people to come to our shores. If they come, our double taxation will kick in without fines or fanfare. If you took the time to check the records, you will find that Barbados had double taxation agreements with the United States since 1984 and a second protocol as late as July 2014.”
Mrs Fly tried to partake of some of the sumptuous servings but was unceremoniously shooed away. Nevertheless, she remained within hearing distance. She again whispered in one of the fellows’ ear. “Raise the subject of FATCA because if we are not all on board in Parliament, all hell will break loose. Some of the fellows as well as some of the prominent citizens are being investigated by the banks. Even ordinary citizens are receiving confusing mail. If the banks were to miss an enterprise for over an extended period that should be reported, their balance sheet would be dark.” Canadians and others who are fighting FATCA would be reluctant to come as international businesses.
To the Wild Coot Mrs Fly was a valuable ally. What she said was that one or two fellows were shaking their heads. She was sure that it had nothing to do with the food at the Crane, as that place was famous for its exquisite cuisine and gourmet dining.
Are those fellows shaking their heads going to vote against changing the laws to suit FATCA, or are they shaking their heads in disbelief that one nation could present another with such effrontery?
Mrs Fly decided to take flight at this stage as one of the participants became suspicious with the constant buzzing in her ear. Somehow she associated Mrs Fly with the Wild Coot. All of a sudden she jumped up and shouted: “You tell Wild Coot that we have no intention of committing hara kiri or seppuku. We are a little coral speck in the Atlantic Ocean, ‘bearly’ surviving, can’t even pay we bills and he want us to stand up to the mighty USA. You see what they did to Cuba for over 50 years, although they were reaping sweets before Castro came on the scene? You see what they did to Noreiga in Panama after he gave them yeoman help with the drugs business? You see . . . . I had better shut my mouth. That fly is a Wild Coot spy.”
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]