As a small financial centre, Barbados is doing all within its power to comply with internationally agreed standards.
This was the stern message coming from the country’s Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, M.P., as he delivered the featured address at the 8th OECD Global Plenary, which was held from November 29-30, 2015, at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Mr. Stuart said: “We have been working assiduously to implement the recommendations coming out of our Phase 2 Peer Review, while at the same time, readying ourselves for both the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act and the automatic exchange of information as an early adopter.”
He disclosed that Barbados recently signed a Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and officials would soon sign the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement.
“Shortly thereafter, we will be requesting a Supplemental Report, as we have taken action that we believe should lead to an upgrade of our overall country rating from “Partially Compliant” to “Largely Compliant”. Barbados is also at an advanced stage in implementing the standard on automatic exchange of information…. Our Parliament has recently passed legislation to give effect to the USA Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, paving the way for Barbados to automatically exchange tax information with the USA,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister said that since Barbados had established an international financial services centre, it had nurtured the reputation of the services it provided jealously and spared no effort in doing all that could be done to enable the jurisdiction to withstand the closest inspection.
“We have a competitive advantage in the area of financial services for which we have worked very hard over the years. We do not wish to feel that each time that we develop a competitive advantage the playing field rules will change and place us on a path of continually having to seek new and legitimate ways of providing for our people,” he stated.
He noted that despite the high level of compliance and cooperation as reflected in the Forum and the plethora of exchange of information agreements signed and implemented, some countries were constantly placed on the defensive. He lamented that they had to fight to defend their legitimacy and existence as international financial centres.
Mr. Stuart continued: “We are particularly concerned that even at this stage when the Forum is considering its third mandate, there are still some member countries – even members of this Forum – that create blacklists of other countries without regard to the implications such actions could have.
“… This type of action can have a devastating impact on the reputation of our countries. It increases our risk profiles and affects our ability to retain or attract new investment and also has the potential to jeopardise the ease with which investors can access funding.”
He argued that blacklisting of member countries of the Forum by other member states should never occur, and suggested that the Forum needed to come to a clear position on the way forward on that issue.