BARBADOS: Diplomat criticises EU for blacklisting jurisdiction.

As published on barbadostoday.bb, Friday 27 November, 2020.

Honorary Consul for Belize in Barbados Ambassador John Beale has described the European Union’s (EU) decision to put Barbados on its so-called blacklist this year as “unfair” and nothing but “sheer nonsense”.

At the same time, he said Bridgetown should take some of the blame for ending up on the unfavourable EU list.

“We have ourselves to blame too, because we were specifically told to do ten things and we did seven. Cayman did all ten and they didn’t get blacklisted. I have to assume that somebody in some Ministry might have figured that seven out of ten is a passing grade. It is not good enough. But it happens time and time again with things related to us being classified as being blacklisted,” said Beale.

He shared the thoughts on Thursday during a regular meeting of the Rotary Club of Barbados under the month’s theme of Nation Building.

Beale, who was speaking on the topic Issues Facing Barbados in a Global Context, said despite the island not meeting the requirements in time, the EU had no right putting Barbados on its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

“Clearly, this is sheer nonsense and it is not reasonable; neither is it fair, but the world doesn’t work on that basis,” he said.

Pointing to economist Marla Dukharan’s assessment of the development in which she questioned the reasoning behind the list and if the EU was employing racist tactics, Beale said, “for one thing, countries that are part of the EU or powerful nations like the US will never get blacklisted”.

Despite Barbados making required changes to its tax exchange framework by December 2019, that did not meet the OECD Global Forum’s deadline for the review period which was July 2015 to June 2018.

As a result, the Global Forum placed the island on its list of “partially compliant” jurisdictions earlier this year.

Following this, the EU then placed Barbados on its list of “non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes”, also known as a “blacklist”, and kept the country on that list in early October when it was issued again.

Government has so far initiated discussions with the relevant officials as it makes a case for the country to be removed from the Global Forum’s list, which could take place as soon as February next year.

Beale said he believed the size of a country matters when it came to certain “consensus” among international decision-makers and more powerful nations.

However, he said there were some things Barbados could do in the global business sector to improve the situation here.

Among those, he said, was enticing more international tax lawyers to be resident on the island.

Beale, who spoke on several matters, also touched on that of the Barbados 12-month Welcome Stamp, saying it was “a new gold mine for us to go after”.

“The Welcome Stamp is like bait to me – I want to get them to bite. Once they come here, then we have to do everything to make them remain, bring their friends, buy properties,” he said.

The former ambassador said the Yacht Club had decided to introduce a Welcome Stamp Day to allow the nomads to come and share ideas. He suggested that the Rotary Club of Barbados do something similar “so ideas can flow out”.

He also cried shame on multilateral institutions for not doing more to assist developing countries with concessionary financing, while insisting that the notion of countries “graduating” was due to high gross national income per capita.

“Guess what? The decision is not technical, the decision is absolutely, purely political and it is decided by the powerful nations,” he said, adding that he believed Barbados’ ability to get concessionary financing from the World Bank during the COVID-19 pandemic this year was perhaps a “one-off”. (MM)

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