Tuesday, 20 November 2018

PLP STATEMENT ON THE EU’S MOVE TO BLACKLIST THE BAHAMAS

PLP STATEMENT ON THE EU’S MOVE TO BLACKLIST THE BAHAMAS
CHESTER COOPER, MP EXUMAS AND RAGGED ISLAND, PLP DEPUTY LEADER, SHADOW MINISTER OF FINANCE & FINANCIAL SERVICES

It has unfortunately been confirmed by the minister of finance that the European Union intends this week to blacklist The Bahamas as a non-cooperative tax jurisdiction.
The Progressive Liberal Party, like the minister of finance, is disappointed in this development, if not entirely surprised.
The government previously assured that it had staved off this move by the EU.
The shifting goal posts of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the illusory criteria the EU Code of Conduct Group have imposed without giving The Bahamas any real voice are a threat to our livelihood.
It is mind-boggling that all that has been done by The Bahamas in recent years is not enough to satisfy these international bodies.
But there can be no question that the national interests in the security of The Bahamas’ offshore financial center are paramount.
And the PLP is sincerely interested in helping the government navigate the process of delisting and will avail ourselves for consultation and to pass emergency legislation if required, to adequately respond to this attack.
We have a wealth of expertise and have no illusions that delisting is a national priority to preserve our financial services industry and correspondent banking relationships, which have already suffered enough.
However, simply achieving the short-term goal of delisting is not enough, as these international bodies will likely move the goal posts again.
What is needed is a proactive course of action and a national non-partisan plan to improve ease of doing business and to create incentives for real international business to create economic substance in The Bahamas. Meaningful consultation with industry stakeholders, particularly the Bahamas Financial Services Board, and the opposition on these issues is a must.
Waiting for the OECD, and now the EU, to come up with further hoops for us to jump through will not do.
We must also have a comprehensive approach to economic growth by generating better financial conditions in which entrepreneurs can thrive.
As we have previously suggested, a local economic czar, designing more and easier access to banking services, deeper investment in food security through local private public partnerships, local and foreign investment in expanding industries in which more Bahamians can participate and wealth creation are just a few things that can begin immediately to ensure the sound financial future of The Bahamas.
The PLP looks forward to bringing our wealth of knowledge to the table to assist the government in this matter.
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