EU's 'shifting tax compliance requirements' sparks discontent in the Caribbean

Pedro Gonçalves
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EU's 'shifting tax compliance requirements' sparks discontent in the Caribbean

The Caribbean jurisdictions say that the EU, by "shifting goalposts" placing many of them in a blacklist, is trespassing on the region's sovereignty.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said its members are moving to intensify lobbying efforts and outreach to craft a credible process that is deal with  "persistent threat" to its efforts for development that the EU blacklist poses.

The EU's self-determination of what constitutes good tax governance, "reek of a by-gone era which came to an end with our political independence," the Secretary-General said.

Each time there is one problem [and] that problem is addressed, by the next time the EU comes around there is a second and third problem. So the goal post keeps shifting in a way that makes management of the industry difficult and creates uncertainty"

Questioning whether the aim of the EU was to destroy the international financial services in the Region, he said if that was the case, "it would be a frontal attack on the economies of the affected Member States."

 "Financial services provide significant revenue for many of our Member States and therefore are an important source of domestic resources. The mobilisation of domestic resources was recommended by the United Nations Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), as a major part of the finances needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals."

The CARICOM Secretary-General said that the "onerous requirements being imposed are constantly shifting and go beyond those established by the OECD."

"Our Member States are committed to accomplishing those goals which would help us build resilience against our inherent vulnerabilities," he added.

Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, said that heads of government have asked the EU to cease blacklisting of CARICOM Member States that have already made commitments to reform their tax structures. He added that concern was expressed that there was an element of "irregular behaviour" in the process by which any country could be blacklisted under the EU system.

"We do not think that it has the appeal of a democratic process or a consensual process and we take exception to that matter. Each time there is one problem [and] that problem is addressed, by the next time the EU comes around there is a second and third problem. So the goal post keeps shifting in a way that makes management of the industry difficult and creates uncertainty," Harris said.

A CARICOM delegation had travelled to Romania - which currently holds the chairmanship of the EU and its financial council - and Brussels earlier in the year to discuss the blacklist.