Barbados moving to close loopholes on tax evasion

By added on 11/03/2015

The Barbados Government says it will not tolerate businesses operating within the international business and financial services sector engaging in tax evasion practices here and is seeking support from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), reports the Jamaica Observer.

Commerce Minister Donville Inniss, speaking in Parliament Tuesday, said he had already written to the OECD and the island has formally committed to signing on to the automatic exchange of tax information.

In his contribution to the debate on the Corporate and Trust Service Providers Bill 2015, Innis said that “we have completed the questionnaire and I did receive a response from the OECD a few days ago indicating that the matter is being processed through their channels and we should in short order be in a position to conclude that particular issue.

“That is important because as a Government, we have taken a paradigm shift that Barbados needs to be a player and to be seen as a major player in this international financial services sector where it matters most”.

He told legislators, including the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that ended a seven week boycott of Parliament, that the island “cannot sit back any longer and complain about what is being imposed upon us.

“As a Government we have taken a position that it is our bounded duty to get up and go to the table and to the discussions where it matters most,” he said, noting that Barbados remains one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investments from Canada to the tune of BDS60 billion (One BDS dollar =US$0.50 cents).

But he said he was concerned at the ability of the local banking sector being able to open and operate accounts for companies operating in the sector.

“In talking with some of the bankers you realize that it may not have been a deliberate attempt on the part of the headquarters in Canada in particular to pick on Barbados, but they see the whole Caribbean as a high risk area and that’s the price you pay sometimes for where you are geographically located …

“My office and others continue to talk to the bankers, trying to work with them,” he said, thanking the Central Bank of Barbados for its involvement “in helping to bring …an understanding to the fact that it is not right to label all of us in the same manner”.

But opposition legislator, Dale Marshall, said a large number of the best performing businesses in the financial services sector have left Barbados.

He told legislators while there had been an increase in the number of new businesses, the types of companies leaving the sector is cause for concern.