By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — St Kitts and Nevis wasn’t blacklisted by the European Union in a revised blacklist for tax havens outside the EU last month; however, that hasn’t stopped foreign affairs minister Mark Brantley denouncing what he considers unfair targeting of Caribbean countries.
Regional states on the list included Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands.
Brantley has strong words for the EU, labelling the blacklisting as a process intended to do irreparable harm to those targeted.
“Even though we weren’t blacklisted, I have said publicly, and I continue to say that there is no joy in my mind because Barbados, Dominica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago all of these countries which are our CARICOM brothers and sisters have been blacklisted. It is a process which we think is opaque, a process which is unfair, a process that is calculated to do irreparable harm to these small countries and small jurisdictions and it is a process that we feel is on the wrong trajectory that it would be better for the EU to engage in dialogue, to seek to assist if there are legitimate areas of concern,” he said.
The foreign affairs minister is against the European Union issuing directives and deadlines to sovereign nations and urges dialogue between the EU and those countries it feels are guilty of harmful tax practices.
Brantley mentioned the Barbados situation in particular: “If one takes the view for example of Barbados, we were told that the EU was concerned about harmful tax practices and the fact that they were disparities in our tax structure, some entities were taxed, others were not. Barbados in its sovereign right and having looked at its own fiscal situation determined that it would tax all entities at 5 percent.
“The EU nevertheless blacklisted Barbados saying that 5 percent is too low. That impinges on Barbados’ sovereignty… It’s one thing to say that we are doing things that are somehow harmful but to tell us that they must set our tax rate I think is unconscionable, and it really comes back to this big stick approach that we’ve complained about.”
Brantley also reiterated comments he made about Dominica earlier, suggesting that Roseau is being hard done by the EU.
One year and a half later, Dominica is still recovering from the major devastation caused by hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Blacklisted countries face restrictions on EU funding and investments from the European Investment Bank.
EU governments can choose to add their own sanctions against the blacklisted countries.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network