Bahamas-India ties tighten with TIEA signing
India’s pursuit of the hidden illegal funds of its citizens may have been one impetus behind their signing of a tax information exchange agreement(TIEA)with The Bahamas on Friday, but greater economic cooperation between the nations and benefits such as an information technology(IT)center may follow on the heels of the agreement.
Greater cooperation in economic, environmental, and other areas are expected as a result of The Bahamas’24th TIEA signed with India, the world’s second most populous country, and an increasingly important player on the global scene.
“It will be a springboard to our further economic cooperation,”said India’s High Commissioner to The Bahamas and Jamaica Mohinder S. Grover.”It will further facilitate economic interaction and will enable us to explore newer avenues and more avenues for bilateral cooperation, not only in the economic domain but other domains too.”
Summarizing the terms of the TIEA, Grover said that it will allow for international standards of transparency and the exchange of information required in tax administration and enforcement.
“With this signing today(Friday), The Bahamas now has tax information exchange agreements with 10 members of the G-20,”said Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Zhivargo Laing, who signed the TIEA on behalf of The Bahamas.”The government is confident that the continued expansion of its tax cooperation network further enhances this country’s position as a choice international commercial center in which, and from which, to conduct business.”
India may have very immediate reasons to have this TIEA with The Bahamas in place. According to a report in Yahoo!News India, by Wednesday last week the Indian government had completed TIEA negotiations with 10 countries believed to be the hiding places of money obtained by its citizens illegally-for example via tax evasion-of which The Bahamas was one.
Indian publication The Hindu reported last week Thursday that India’s government was looking to define taxable assets as”inclusive of deposits in banks located outside India in the case of individuals, if such deposits are not records in the books of accounts.”
Asked how this TIEA might help the Indian government to ascertain if specific funds it may be seeking were in Bahamian accounts, the high commissioner said that the agreement was very specific in detailing the process for information gathering.
“It is on the competent authorities to determine the relevance of this,”Grover said.”I would not trample on the turf of the competent authorities to explore and make use of[this TIEA].”
One of the benefits of the ongoing cooperation between the two countries would be an IT center, if negotiations between the two governments are successful.
“We are trying to set up an IT center here,”Grover said.”We are working on the memorandum of understanding, and as soon as we finalize[it]we will try to give[the IT center]a shape, which would involve the hardware, software, and a trainingfacultyfrom India here to train hundreds of Bahamian students, so that they can get skills in the IT area and contribute to capacity building in this country.”
The high commissioner said that the IT center would be implemented”as soon as possible”once the MOU was finalized, and if developed, would be timely.
“Given our push towards e-government and what we know is necessary in terms of using technology to drive our economic growth and development an IT center would be a marvelous development,”said Laing.
India is the second most populous nation in the world, a global leader in the information technology arena, and the world’s largest democracy.
According to Jamaica Information Services, that country signed an MOU with India on September 3, 2010 for an information and communication technology(ICT)center in Jamaica that would train 400 to 600 students per year, and include an ICT laboratory, two classrooms, Indian instructors, Indian-provided course materials and a$1 million grant to the Jamaican government.
CAPTION: Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Zhivargo Laing(right)and India’s High Commissioner to The Bahamas and Jamaica, Mohinder S. Grover, signed a tax information exchange agreement last week. On the far left is Vikas Chandra, chief executive officer, State Bank of India. The Ministry of Finance’s administrative cadet Mario Roland is assisting.(BIS Photo/Derek Smith)