Barbados

Barbados hits back at OECD in tax haven war


By added on 25/03/2011

Barbados' Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler has declared that government is not about to "roll over and play dead" while the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) enhances its attempts to blacklist Barbados as an unsafe tax jurisdiction, according to a report in the Jamaica Observer.

Sinckler has made it clear that government intends to defend the country's reputation.

He said the latest fiasco in the OECD, which recently said that existing tax laws in Barbados are inadequate, was not only being led by the French and Germans, but was "implicitly sanctioned by others in the G20 - some of whom were among the island's long- standing partners, [who] were also part of a campaign to shut Barbados down as an international tax jurisdiction".

The British government also recently classified Barbados as a Category 3 country for its perceived inability to meet international standards on the exchange of tax information.

Noting that the island's response would be swift and assertive, Sinckler disclosed that a letter had already been drafted to the British government that outlined the island's disappointment with the stance being taken by that country's government and the OECD, on these matters.

"There are people, countries if you will, in the international community, who want to shut Barbados down as an international tax jurisdiction. The constant changing of the goal post in relation to standards on transparency and the exchange of information with respect to the OECD, is as unwarranted as is the criteria and justification for the selection of Barbados from among hundreds of countries to be on a list of about 62 tax jurisdictions, with the potential to disrupt the international financial system," the Finance Minister contended.

Given this situation, he also pointed out that a series of face-to-face meetings would be held between government ministers and ministers from several jurisdictions including the G7 and the G20 countries shortly.

Additionally, Sinckler explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been pressed into action on the issue at the diplomatic level, and would be issuing diplomatic notes to those countries that were sympathetic to Barbados' plight, as it "seeks to build a coalition of states to resist these latest efforts of the OECD to challenge the good name of countries that are otherwise cooperating on international tax issues".

More importantly, he added, was the International Business Unit and the Ministry of International Business' work behind the scenes to prepare a response to the Peer Review level and specifically, in the Global Forum as a whole, which said Barbados had fallen short of the international tax standard.

"It is the alliances we build that will serve to protect and enhance Barbados' reputation as a high-quality, open and well regulated tax jurisdiction and I can think of no better and a more strategic alliance than the one we currently have with BIBA (Barbados International Business Association). Any challenge to Barbados' name in this arena, is a challenge to your viability and that of your clients. To that extent, therefore, I fully expect that BIBA, as always, will continue to lend its fullest support and influence to this latest initiative," Sinckler added.

He said the OECD's tactics go against the widely held view of Barbados as a responsible tax jurisdiction in the international community and questioned the OECD's motives since the island actively participated in its OECD's Peer Review Committee and was a leading advocate on transparency in tax matters.

"What is even more troubling is the premature and unnecessary rush to judgment by the British Tax Authorities to place Barbados in the so-called Category 3 group of countries, which includes none less than some of the world's uncooperative tax havens," the Finance Minister said.