European Union (EU) Phot

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- The European Union (EU) has been criticized for blacklisting countries as non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes by Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Mark Brantley. He said the EU’s treatment of Small Island Developing States SIDS) is “unconscionable behaviour on the part of those who are rich and powerful against those of us who are poor and vulnerable.”

Speaking in the National Assembly on Dec. 19 several amendments were made to Acts to meet an EU compliance date of Dec. 31. “The action was necessary because the European bloc deemed St. Kitts and Nevis as a country with harmful tax practices,” Minister Brantley said. “St. Kitts and Nevis together has a robust financial services sector.”

Brantley said the offshore sector “has added tremendous value to the economy of Nevis” and that the “financial services sector translates into some $14 million per year in direct government revenue in Nevis, but that financial institutions are threatened by blocs such as the EU.

“When one looks at the multiplier effect—rental of office space, employment, high paying jobs—it is a very significant sector,” Brantley said.

However, he said that while the amendments are primarily concerned with the offshore sector, the onshore banking sector is affected if something goes wrong in the financial services sector.

Brantley said that judgments by developed countries at times are “a conspiracy of effort by some countries to ensure that smaller countries such as ours remain poor and dependent.”

“We are here in St. Kitts and Nevis being required as other countries throughout the world to grapple with these difficult issues at a time when we feel they are calculated in many ways to derail and retard the progress that is being made,” Brantley explained. “Nonetheless, our country, it has to be said, has been responsive and responsible. Our country and its government certainly have responded to every concern in a forthright manner. We have come to the Parliament and we have said in a very forthright way what the situation is.

“All that we have done and all that we continue to do is seek to conduct ourselves as a responsible country in the world of nations,” Brantley added.

In response to the EU Code of Conduct Group and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) FHTP (Forum for Harmful Tax Practices), several amendments encapsulated in bills were introduced in the National Assembly including Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Financial Services Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Captive Insurance Companies (Amendments) Bill, 2018; Trusts (Amendment) Bill, 2018; and Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

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