Dominica's prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit. (FILE)
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ROSEAU – The Dominica government Monday called on the European Union to remove the island from a list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions saying that it had done all that had been required by Europe in meeting the obligation requested.
“We don’t want an apology, all we want is to remove our name from the blacklist because we have done everything and we have gone beyond what was required by the international community,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told Parliament as it approved amendments to earlier pieces of legislation that had been mandated by the European Union.
In March, the European Finance Ministers said that Barbados, United Arab Emirates and Marshall islands that were on the 2017 blacklist and moved to the grey list following commitments they had taken, were now being backlisted for not having followed up.
The European said that seven other countries, namely Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Aruba, Fiji, Oman and Vanuatu were moved from the grey list to the blacklist for the same reason.
They said another 34 countries will continue to be monitored in 2019, while 25 countries from the original screening process have now been cleared.
But Skerrit told Parliament that the blame surrounding the decision to place the island on the blacklist should be placed at the feet of the European, who had failed to communicate adequately an in time, the necessary procedures to be followed after Dominica had first met all that had been required of it.
He used the occasion to reiterate his call for a bipartisan approach to dealing with the situation.
“There are some things in our country that transcend party politics because when our country gets into this negative list, it is not Roosevelt Skerrit or the Dominica Labour Party, it is Dominica and these things have the potential of impacting the way we conduct business in our country and between countries”
He warned that the blacklisting will also affect the island’s banking and financial systems.
“So people have to understand these things and recognise that this is not about UWP (United Workers Party) or Dominica Labour Party. This is about our country and our country is facing, like all other developing countries, a monumental task.
“We are small fries, we are sprats . . . in a deep blue ocean surrounded by sharks and whales,” he said, noting that unlike the United States that “quite rightly” warned the European when they tried to impose the same policies “you have no jurisdiction over the United States”.
“We don’t have that power,” he said, adding “all we do in this country is watch and pray to our Lord to protect and guide us in this every difficult world because we don’t have the civil authority to deal with these issues so we have go beyond the civil authority and seek the spiritual intervention.”
Skerrit said that having diplomatic relations with countries were no longer the criteria for getting in aid in the future.
“It boils down to one thing, friendship,” he said, adding “the world has changed it has become more difficult and if you do not know how to navigate this world and if you do not have friends you could call or send a Whatsapp . . . you have problems.” (CMC)