EDITORIAL: Accord should banish blacklist
THE CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR’S recent report shows a revised downward projection of growth and illustrates the importance of tourism to this country’s progress.
It is just as well therefore that the recent Global Forum meeting held at the Hilton Barbados gave a fillip to our tourism while bringing settlement and precision to issues which will help to improve the integrity of our international offshore financial sector.
It should be clear by now that the tourism sector benefits considerably from the offshore sector, since the owners and investors are known to visit our country to see where their investment and other international business companies are located.
But such investors like certainty about the fiscal environment in which they are operating and the actions of some OECD countries belonging to Global Forum in blacklisting our island have caused considerable damage by raising questions about our reputation as a clean and cooperative jurisdiction. Thankfully, we have contained the damage.
Since it is the OECD and the Global Forum that are promoting international cooperation in tax transparency and fairness, last week’s meeting, in addition to helping our tourism by attracting some 200 delegates and others to our island, allowed our leaders to directly raise and confront the unfair blacklisting. Some member countries of the OECD have published what can only be described as “rogue black lists” which have tarnished our good name even as we are being very cooperative.
We support the Prime Minister, who in a robust reference on the matter, made it clear that as he rightly put it “we have had to defend our legitimacy and existence” as an international financial centre while doing most if not all of the things that needed to be done in order to promote the ideals of the OECD and the Global Forum on international tax fairness.
The Minister of International Business and the advisers and consultants to his Ministry should also be congratulated on their efforts to bring this eighth meeting of the Global Forum to Barbados. Such meetings highlight the growing importance of this country as a treaty-based centre and together with Minister Inniss’ vice presidency of the Global Forum and the establishment of research at the University of the West Indies on international tax issues, our growing profile as a financial centre is enhanced.
The signing ceremony of the multilateral competent authority agreement which implements the new international standards on automatic exchange of information now eliminates the separate signing of individual bilateral treaties since our country is among the 74 counties signing on to the automatic arrangements.
This arrangement should prevent the turbulence in blacklisting and then subsequent revoking of such blacklisting and should make investors confident in the clean and transparent jurisdiction that we are.
Now that a new pattern of rules has been established, we hope that there will be no unilateral adjustment of the goalposts.
The Prime Minister made this point succinctly when he told the plenary session that “we do not wish to feel that each time we develop a comparative advantage, the playing rules will change and place us on path of continually having to seek new and legitimate ways of providing for our people”.
And that is part of the problem. We have followed the rules faithfully, even when the goalposts shifted; and yet suffer unfair blacklisting. Hopefully those days are now behind us.