• We must look beyond December 2018
• Bahamian people deserve to know commitments made to EU
• Government must deliver on commitments
• Prudent decisions and proper consultation essential
The news that The Bahamas has been removed from the European Union’s (EU) list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions is welcomed. According to a press release issued earlier today, The Bahamas has been moved from Annex 1 (blacklist) to Annex II (grey list) by the EU.
While this is a notable development, we are not out of the woods yet and there is much work to be done to ensure that The Bahamas is totally removed from any adverse listing published by the EU. This is bearing in mind that countries on the grey list can be moved back to the blacklist if they fail to honor their commitments.
The rationale for the addition of The Bahamas to the grey list is that commitments have been made by The Bahamas at a high political level to remedy EU concerns. It is imperative that these commitments are shared with the Bahamian people in the spirit of transparency and accountability. It is noteworthy to state that several jurisdictions have consented to the publication of their commitment letters on the EU’s website thereby providing their people with access to commitments made on their behalf.
The clock is now ticking as the December 31, 2018 deadline for delivering on our commitments to the EU is fast approaching. We are hopeful that this impending deadline will not result in rushed or imprudent decisions and the ditching of proper consultation with stakeholders and the Bahamian people. In the days ahead, the Bahamian people will be looking to the Government to lay out its comprehensive plan to ensure our removal from the EU grey list. This should include the approach to be taken in addressing the fair taxation criterion and clarify the framework for rectifying the economic substance and ring fencing issues identified.
We implore the Government to look beyond the upcoming deadline and develop a comprehensive Financial Services Growth Action Plan (FSGAP) which will reposition The Bahamas as a premier international financial centre. Our focus must extend beyond removal from blacklists and compliance with international standards to strategic planning for the creation of a thriving financial services industry. The global landscape for financial services has changed and continues to evolve; The Bahamas cannot afford to be left behind.
The international pressures we face present us with a unique opportunity to re-imagine, reform, retool and rebrand our financial services industry. We must look at the bigger picture and the Government must not be myopic in its responses. The ultimate objective must be to place the interests of the Bahamian people ahead of all other interests. We stand ready to assist the Government in a non-partisan effort in the national interest.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance