The decision of the European Union Code of Conduct Group (COCG) to recommend to the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council that The Bahamas should be removed from the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes is a welcome development. The announcement that our removal from the blacklist is expected to be approved and made official by the ECOFIN Council by May 25, 2018 is good news.
The short period of time between the inclusion of The Bahamas on the infamous blacklist and the COCG's recommendation for The Bahamas' removal suggests that we ought not to have been placed on the list in the first place. The impact on our nation's reputation because of the EU's action cannot be quantified or ascertained. However, we are optimistic that this will also serve as a wakeup call to the Government to ensure that there is no miscommunication or inadequate responses to requests for information in future.
Our efforts must now be channeled towards meeting the December 31, 2018 deadline for honoring the commitments made to the EU. More importantly, we must look beyond the impending deadline to develop a robust Financial Services Growth Action Plan which articulates our strategy for the growth of this vital sector going forward.
We cannot always be in a reactive mode to international pressures on our financial services industry; rather we must chart our own course for the future. The ever-changing goal posts of international agencies and groupings demand that our focus is much more than avoiding or being removed from one list after the other. It is time to embark on initiatives for our own sake and place us on a path to progress and prosperity. These initiatives must involve a deliberate strategy to shed the tax haven label currently attached to The Bahamas.
We are hopeful that the Government will take heed and we stand ready to assist in this regard.
Arinthia S. Komolafe, Deputy Leader
Democratic National Alliance