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PM applauds hemispheric focus on tax information exchange

Dr. Hubert Minnis. FILE

LIMA, Peru – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said The Bahamas is pleased that the Lima Commitments are inclusive of tax information exchange, which previously placed small island states at a disadvantage.

He was addressing the Plenary Session of the Eighth Summit of the Americas on Saturday morning. The summit was held at the Lima Convention Centre April 13–14, 2018 under the theme “Democratic Governance Against Corruption”.

The prime minister said The Bahamas is pleased with the prioritization of education in the Lima Commitments document, given the important role education can play in preventing corruption and bolstering democratic governance.

About 22 years ago, member states of the hemisphere adopted the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, the first international agreement of its kind in the world.

The Bahamas firmly endorses the tenets of the Lima Commitments document, the prime minister said.

“These commitments establish a baseline which each country of the hemisphere should aim to achieve. The tenets are tools for us to hold each other accountable.

“It is only through cooperation and collaboration that countries will be able to curtail the webs of corruption that often extend across borders, after involving transnational criminal activity in our interconnected world.”

The Bahamas also applauds the inclusion of a mandate to establish a hemispheric focus upon tax information exchange, “which has until now, been a rather one-sided, indeed lopsided, conversation,” Minnis said.

He added, “Accordingly, we are pleased that the Lima Commitments acknowledge the importance of technical assistance, to ensure states have the necessary support to implement regional and international anti-corruption obligations.

“Too often as small states we are subject to norms developed without meaningful engagement from us, norms which may not be applied uniformly to all jurisdictions.

“We look forward to a balanced dialogue where we meet as equals on matters that are of importance to us all.”

When setting regional or international standards, he said, there is the need to minimize unintended consequences that negatively impact small economies in the region, especially when devising regulatory mechanisms.

“For many developing countries, including small island states in the Caribbean region, for instance, the unintended consequence of loss of correspondent banking relationships requires a collaborative solution, as stated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in 2016,” Minnis said.

Lagarde appropriately noted: “All actors have a part to play: Countries need to upgrade their regulatory frameworks; regulators in key financial centers need to clarify regulatory expectations and ensure consistent application over time; and global banks need to avoid knee-jerk reactions and find sensible ways to reduce their costs.”

Minnis concluded, “We must ensure that our efforts do not have as a backlash erosion of regional financial stability and inclusion.”

The First Summit of the Americas was convened in Miami, Florida, December 9–11, 1994.

Since its inception, the summit has served as the region’s highest level process for cooperation on increasing economic competitiveness, fostering growth and development, improving regional and citizen security and promoting democracy and human rights.

The prime minister leads a delegation which includes Attorney General Carl Bethel; Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd; Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield; Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister Joshua Sears; Chief Operating Officer of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit Viana Gardiner; Patricia Minnis and others.

 

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