Bahamas strongly defended during meeting with OECD
The Bahamas has sent a resounding message to the international financial community, that it will not be bullied or threatened into compliance to the detriment the economy, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday.
Earlier this month, Turnquest and a delegation consisting of Minister of Finance,Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette and Attorney General Carl Bethel met with high-ranking officials of the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
“Our message was simple, The Bahamas’ financial services sector was not designed to, nor does it facilitate harmful tax practices,” Turnquest said in the House of Assembly while giving Parliament an update on The Bahamas’ efforts to ensure compliance with the international bodies.
“While we are implementing measures to ensure compliance with international standards on tax governance and transparency, we let it be known that we reserve our sovereign right to develop our legal, tax and regulatory frameworks in ways that we deem necessary for our own economic development.”
Turnquest said the delegation also defended the country’s permanent residency program, which the OECD has recognized as high risk because of the potential for it to be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence.
“During the discussions with the deputy secretary general of the OECD in Paris on November 8, both the minister of financial services, trade and industry and immigration and the attorney general joined me in reinforcing that collaborative engagement with jurisdictions was the most effective way of fostering the growth, promoting the adoption of world standards, not threatening a blacklisting and other sanctions,” he said.
“My Cabinet colleagues and I defended The Bahamas’ permanent residency program against the OECD’s criticism…. The Bahamas’ permanent residency program does not infer tax residency in and of itself.”
Turnquest yesterday tabled a compendium of bills that the government hopes will satisfy the requirements of the international watchdogs to keep The Bahamas in good standing as a tax compliant jurisdiction.