Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM) the Hon. Gaston Browne has spoken out against the constant targeting of the financial services sectors of the region by developed nations through blacklisting.
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 42nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community today, PM Browne said that despite the region’s adherence to the myriad of changing rules and regulations put forward by the OECD, FATF and other relevant global authorities, the region is constantly at a disadvantage.
“We object to being targeted and placed on lists of so-called ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions’ by countries that claim to be in an economic partnership with us. The economic partnership EPA has failed to deliver the promised developmental benefits to all of its members. We object to the lack of consultation, and to the lack of real understanding or empathy regarding the impact of these policies on small and vulnerable economies,” Prime Minister Browne said.
He noted a recent measure being adopted, whereby the region is being saddled with a global minimum corporate tax initiative which will remove the flexibility as sovereign nations to adopt tax policies that best suit their circumstances.
“Small and micro-states must be able to use taxation policies as legitimate instruments to better compensate for small market size, remote location, lack of resources, and industrial disadvantage. We refuse to accept being condemned to uncompetitiveness and underdevelopment. We are determined to achieve the sustainable goals for our people,” PM Browne pointed out.
He also stated that the region acknowledges that the global tax system is in need of an overhaul, however, he said that CARICOM states are not the problem at this time. “We should not be collateral damage on the road to a fairer international tax regime. We cannot throw up our hands in despair. We must continue to collectively fight these inequalities,” he said.
The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister continued by repeating a call for the countries of the region to work as a unit, incorporating other small and micro-sates that are similarly affected. He said disadvantaged nations must continue to keep an eye on the emerging threats in the sector from various sources to include the OECD and the EU.
“These realities encourage us to move more urgently with the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). We can no longer afford the luxury of delaying approval of key instruments such as the Financial Services Agreement, Investment Policy and Incentive Regimes and the Development and Regulation of a Regional Securities Market. The full operationalization of the CSME is required for the transformation of our economies and to fight for a robust post COVID recovery,” Prime Minister Browne stated.