Peter Turnquest, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (second from right) with Brent Symonette, the Minister for Financial Services ( third from left) were two Ministers of the hopeless and hapless FNM government who flew off to Europe they said to get the European Union’s ministers to take The Bahamas off the latest blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions. The photo was posted on 14 March. The two ministers claimed that they were required by the EU to sign a letter at the highest political level to commit to the tax standards that the EU wants with regard to corporations, mainly it seems IBCs. The ministers claimed that the Government signed the letter last year under the hand of the Financial Secretary. Then they were told that this was not good enough so the same letter was signed by the Finance Minister. To no effect. The country was put on the black list any way.
The PLP should not be saying “good for you”. But we say it. It could not have happened to a finer bunch. They lied on the PLP and thought in their hubris that because they were somehow connected to the white establishment in The Bahamas that the scorn of the EU was not for them. Of course the EU does not give a tinker’s dam about that. We are all just natives on an island, savages, thieves and crooks, who want to steal their tax money.
Now the question is what to do about it. Flying off to Europe and demanding to see EU Minister means nothing. The EU is such a creaky bureaucracy that even if the Ministers themselves were sympathetic, they could not move unless they got the recommendations from the bureaucracy. So it was a silly idea.
The FNM has choked the life out of the foreign service of the country. The Foreign Minister is a lost soul who has no clue what the role of the agency is. He has gutted the ability of diplomats to do their work. For example Rhoda Jackson is fine as Permanent Secretary but more effective she would have been if she were in Geneva minding the store since she also was the rep at the EU.
The FNM says they may have to bring new legislation, but what exactly. The EU says we have until the end of the year to comply with what they want. They want to get access to the revenue of IBC s in The Bahamas. The Financial Services Sector say that we may have to introduce corporate tax in The Bahamas.
With respect Paul Moss, the lawyer who works in this area, has been saying this for years but of course he was black so no one listened to him.
Now they are all singing that song. ‘
Our last thought on this is that the Financial Services sector has to be blamed for this in part. The Governments, both the FNM and PLP, simply do what the sector wants. But the sector always waits until the last minute before they jump, they seem somehow to think that if they wait, they can bluff the EU or OECD or US or whatever guise these folks come in. The level of proactivity is not enough.
Perhaps this time they will learn but yet again we are too late. It is also clear that knee jerk is not going to help and they really need the PLP’s help to get out of this. Alfred Sears QC and Allyson Gibson Q C would be a good start. The PLP has the men and women with experience and the strategic capacity to plot the way out. But the FNM is full of themselves and so that will never happen.
Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 17th March, 2018 up to midnight: 219,868;
Number of hits for the month of March up to Saturday 17th March, 2018 at midnight: 482,759;
Number of hits for the year 2018 up to Saturday 17th March, 2018 up to midnight: 2,190,327.