Discussions with the European Union (EU) on the future of The Bahamas’ international financial services sector have evolved from a combative tone to a more cooperative one, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said last week.
Turnquest, who was speaking at law firm Higgs and Johnson’s annual client seminar, said The Bahamas has increased its participation at high-level meetings on financial services matters, such as the United Nations’ Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters and at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“Over the past two years, we have signed up to numerous multilateral conventions,” Turnquest said.
“We are members of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) and members of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
“In November, I travel to Paris to ensure that The Bahamas’ voice, at the highest political level, is on the record in discussions related to taxation of the digital economy at the Plenary of the Global Forum, among others.”
Turnquest said discussions with the EU continue as this country defends the “legitimacy and integrity” of its financial services industry.
“By asserting our rights more directly, we are protecting our sovereign interests and establishing a more respectable standard for mutual dialogue,” he said.
According to Turnquest, The Bahamas is more engaged than ever in the conversation on tax matters and the future of international financial centers.
“We are more visible and more vocal where and when these discussions are being held and our voice is being heard,” he said.
Turnquest contends that over the next five to ten years, The Bahamas’ financial services sector will be forced to change and innovate, as the international financial watchdogs continue to change the rules of engagement.
“It has become cliché to talk about the goal post constantly changing,” Turnquest said.
“What that is really telling us, though, is that the goal post was not fixed in the first place. That was merely an illusion.”