St Lucia taking steps to be removed from EU tax haven list — PM

Friday, January 19, 2018

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CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — The St Lucia government Friday said it expects to join fellow Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours, Barbados and Grenada, in being removed from a new list of global tax havens by the European Union.

The EU has signalled its intention to remove the CARICOM countries after they submitted plans to change their tax rules. But jurisdictions set to remain on the blacklist are American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, St Lucia, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said he had a conference call with EU officials on Friday to identify the problem areas.

“Every month there is a review committee that assesses where the defaulting countries are, so we expect to be told specifically what the concerns are to which we will respond,” Chastanet said, adding that Castries has done everything “within its power” to meet the tax requirements. He said he hopes that by the time the next review is conducted the island will be off the so called blacklist.

“St Lucia's GDP (gross domestic product) is one million dollars and we only have 5,000 people in our IDC (International Development Corporation) Act, so once I understand the specifics of what the complaints are, like Grenada and Barbados we should be able to get off the list, and hopefully by next month we would have accomplished that,” the prime minister added.

The new proposals by Grenada and Barbados are expected to be adopted by EU finance ministers when they meet next week in Brussels for monthly talks.

The proposal for the delisting was made by the so-called Code of Conduct Group, which gathers tax experts from the 28 EU member states. It monitors countries' commitments to abide by EU standards on tax matters.

If the recommendation were confirmed by EU ministers, the eight jurisdictions will be moved to a so-called grey list which includes those who have committed to change their rules on tax transparency and cooperation. The grey list currently includes 47 jurisdictions.

Caribbean countries have in the past been very critical of being included on these lists insisting that they have done everything as outlined by various European organisations like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The EU finance ministers had claimed last month that the countries on the blacklist were not doing enough to crack down on offshore avoidance schemes.

The list excludes a number of British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Island and Bermuda that were on a previous EU blacklist from June 2015. Complaints about the methodology of that last list saw it scrapped and replaced with the new register.

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