LaRocque concerned about EU’s blacklisting procedures

    Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia (second from right); CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (l); Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration Hon. Chet Greene (right), and Barbados’ Minister of International Business and Industry Hon Ronald Toppin (second from left) share a photo with EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Muscovici (center) following a meeting on Feb. 21 in Brussels.
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    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — The complexity of the European Union’s (EU) blacklisting process that labels some CARICOM member states as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions has been decried by CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, as a persistent threat to development in the region.

    “I refer to the labelling of our countries by the European Union as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions that refuse to comply with what they determine to be tax good governance standards,” said LaRocque. “Their requirements for compliance are encroaching on our sovereignty and wreak of a bygone era (which) came to an end with our political independence. The onerous requirements being imposed are constantly shifting and go beyond those established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

    LaRocque said financial services contribute significant revenue for several member states and are “therefore an important source of domestic resources”. He added that the United Nation’s (UN) Addis Ababa Action Agenda recommended the mobilization of such resources “needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Goals.”

    “Our member states are committed to accomplishing those goals, which will help us build resilience against our inherent vulnerabilities,” stated LaRocque. “One may question if the role of the European Union is to “destroy the international financial services in our region, and if that is so, it would be a frontal attack on the economies of our affected member states.”

    Ambassador LaRocque used the occasion to express thanks to the Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, for leading a dedicated CARICOM delegation to engage the European Union on the issue. He also extended thanks to the Government of Romania, the current chair of the EU, for affording CARICOM the opportunity to “speak for the first time, to the chairman of the Council that determines compliance.”

    “This was denied to us previously. It demonstrates Romania’s openness to dialogue and to get an understanding of the position of our member states,” the top CARICOM diplomat said.

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