Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday dismissed the rebuking of The Bahamas being removed from the European Union’s (EU) grey list by Oxfam International.
In its review of the EU’s “tax haven” list, Oxfam, a British charity devoted to the reduction of global poverty, said the global watchdog had let The Bahamas, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands – which it described as some of the world’s most harmful tax havens – off the hook.
“I note that Oxfam is again commenting that they lament that The Bahamas and some of the others had been removed from this list. And really and truly, I don’t know to what extent an agency like Oxfam understands these processes in this industry, or what expertise they have to make the calls that they make and why they should have the kind of influence that they have with respect to pressuring
governments and agencies around the world to take the punitive actions that they do,” Turnquest said yesterday.
“Because, it’s counterproductive to what they call themselves to be, eradicating poverty around the world.”
Oxfam contends that tax havens are used by corporations and the super rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, thus depriving countries of important resources to fund essential public services like education and health, which benefit the poorest and women first.
It argues that developing countries are losing around $100 billion each year due to tax avoidance by multinational corporations.
“We are glad to see that EU governments added Panama, the Cayman Islands and the Seychelles to the tax haven blacklist, as they should be. However, the list still proves inadequate: EU governments have let The Bahamas, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands – some of the world’s most harmful tax havens – off the hook. These countries run unfair tax competition and lead the race to the bottom in corporate tax by offering zero-tax rates, or very low tax rates, so that companies avoid paying their fair share,” Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on Tax and Inequalities Chiara Putaturo said on Tuesday.
Turnquest said given the continuously moving goalpost, which organizations like the EU impose on international financial centers like The Bahamas to “level the playing field”, it is time to do away with the term “tax haven”.
“So, I think it’s incumbent upon us as international financial centers to continue our education campaign to ensure that we agitate the legitimacy of international financial centers,” he said.