Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said Dominica condemns the blacklisting of a number of Caribbean and CARICOM countries by the European Union (EU), which describes them as among the world’s 30 worst tax havens.
Dominica was not on the blacklist but the Prime Minister said at a press conference on Tuesday that the EU’s position was “unfounded, baseless and without merit” and the island must stand in solidarity with its Caribbean neighbours.
“Dominica wants to place on record its condemnation of the blacklisting of our sister Caribbean and CARICOM sister countries,” he said.
Last week the EU released the list based on how Member States assess how countries and territories around the world apply standards of tax good governance. Standards, according to the EU, are that based on transparency, exchange of information and fair tax competition.
In explaining the list, Head of the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mikael Barfod said: “It is part of the Commission’s attempt to develop a common EU wide approach to corporate taxation to ensure its transparency and fairness …”
But according to the Prime Minister, the list was made with no consultation and there is basis for it.
“We maintain that there is no basis for such blacklisting,” he said. “It was done without consultation, it was done without the engaging of those countries, to draw to those countries if there would have been any matter of concern to the EU.”
He stated that although Dominica is not on the list, “that for us is not the point.”
“This is about a jurisdiction, this is about our Caribbean community, this is about the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and Dominica wants to stand in solidarity with those sister countries in their fight to clear their good names and restore the countries into the category they ought to be as jurisdiction where our financial system is properly regulated,” he noted, pointing out that Caribbean states are over-regulated.
The Prime Minister noted that although Caribbean community leaders met with EU leaders in Brussels recently, the matter was not raised.
He said that if the EU leaders had such a strong concern about the jurisdiction they should have raised it at the forum and seek clarification.
Skerrit said Caribbean leaders will not take the matter lightly.
“It places our regional jurisdiction in great jeopardy, in great difficulty in the way we conduct business, in foreign direct investment from various development banks and also various government agencies which provide financing to us,” he remarked.
He said his statement is not anti-EU but is an action in which Dominica does not support.
“Dominica will join with our CARICOM member states in rejecting and fighting for our integrity and for our good name,” the Prime Minister said.
He also noted that the blacklist should be reversed forthwith.
“Both CARICOM and OECS will issue statements seeking to seek clarification from the EU,” Skerrit said, adding that “not because we are a small countries, one has to impose their might on us.”
The eight CARICOM countries on the list are Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A number of non-CARICOM Caribbean countries are also listed.