…believes black economies are being targeted
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE continued blacklisting of territories within the Caribbean region by the European Union (EU) is yet again the center of attention, and it is not sitting well with the Prime Minister of The Bahamas.
Even as territories seek to focus on the rebound of their economies, the EU on August 22 released a list of 17 territories that made the latest round of the blacklist.
Within that number are Caribbean territories and it is being seen as discrimination against the black region.
One such territory on the list is The Bahamas and, its Prime Minister, Phillip Davis is not mincing words on the highly discrimatory action being meted out against his and other Caribbean nations when, in fact, many of the EU member territories are not on the list because of the absence of the necessary legislative framework they expect of the region.
While addressing the 77th United Nations General Assembly on Saturday (Sept. 24), Davis lashed out at the latest talk, stating that there is continuing evidence which highlights that the body is targeting the financial services sector of black-governed states.
Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas and Jamaica, among others, have been the target of the EU blacklisting due to the moving goalpost of requirements.
The blacklist classifies those territories as being tax havens and facilitators of money laundering and terrorism finacing. But according to media reports, the level of trade for tax haven and money laundering status is minimal compared with that of EU member states.
Ironically, it is those same EU and other agencies that keep moving the goalpost and using the yardstick method when it comes to classifications.
Several years ago, member states of the Caribbean region were made to update their legislations in order to prove that they were in compliance or face being blacklisted.
“When we look at the countries that are flagged as high risk and are blacklisted, several startling commonalities emerge. Why is it that European states that are offering framework that are akin to that of blacklisted countries are not being eligible for the inclusion on these list?” questioned Davis.
The UK Guardian reported that the Tax Justice Network found that $427B was lost in 2020 due to tax abuses by individuals and companies within the EU and the United States, and those were in five specific locations - they were either United States, British or its dependencies, Netherland and Luxembourg.
In his observation, the Prime Minister noticed that European nations are not making the list even though they are seen as the biggest assistance in money laundering and terrorism financing.
“Why are all the countries targeted? All of them, small and big, are vulnerable or are colonies of European states. We find it astounding that the two to three trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through developed countries are never flagged as causes of concern,” said Davis.
Driving home his point to the Assembly in New York, Davis noted that despite being described as one of the best regulated, he Bahamas is among a number of territories being singled out affecting its reputation.
He alluded to minor technical procedure matters that lead to bigger issues that could affect the overall development of small island developing states, emphasizing that “bigger transgressions” are being overlooked in the developed world.
The discussion surrounding blacklisting and criteria being used will continue but, in the short term, some level of changes must be made either at the territorial government level or at the EU. However, the latter may not change it policy anytime.