Barbados & USA Share 50-Year Friendship
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described the near 50-year relationship between Barbados and the United States of America (USA) as a mutually beneficial one which has “grown from strength to strength”. And Mr. Stuart said he had every reason to believe that the future of this relationship remains bright. He made the comments recently when the new US Ambassador, Linda Taglialatela, paid him a courtesy call at Government Headquarters. Those present included Deputy Chief of Mission, Laura Griesmer; Political and Economic Counselor, Nicholle Manz-Baazaoui; and Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Sonja Welch. The Prime Minister pointed out that Barbados would be celebrating its 50th Anniversary of Independence this year and a number of iconic events were being planned. Remarking that he had seen the country transformed from a village to a nation, he noted, for example, that the infrastructure had been vastly revolutionised and that Barbados continued to benefit from a highly literate population. He stressed that Barbadians had a lot to be proud of, and the country’s development has shown that size is not a determinant of capacity to give history “a nudge”. He noted that Barbados and the USA, as well as other partners like the United Kingdom and Canada, were celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year. Ambassador Taglialatela said the USA was excited about Barbados’ jubilee anniversary and promised that as one of its partners, it would participate in the celebrations. The envoy thanked the Prime Minister for his contribution during the recent climate change discussions in Paris. She stressed that the US would continue to work with Barbados and support its efforts in this area. Mr. Stuart responded by saying that climate change for small island developing countries was a “lived experience” and governments had to incur additional expenditure because of the issues associated with it. He noted that climate change was causing significant disruption to people’s lives. He continued: “In Paris we worked closely with the USA…and forged the kind of relationship which allowed us to speak with one voice and we ended up getting what we wanted.” Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Antigua & Barbuda plans to open office in UAE
The government has announced intention to establish an embassy, trade and economic office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the capital of Abu Dhabi, which will be managed by Casroy James, Resident Ambassador designate, reports the Antigua Observer. Foreign Affairs Minister Max Fernandez said yesterday the office is scheduled to be operational in the next six to eight months. “The trade and economic office will serve primarily as an investment promotional agent and will be executing Antigua’s Investment agenda, very much like the agenda being rolled out in the Antigua & Barbuda Consulate in Miami,” Fernandez said. He stated further the agenda includes the active and strategic promotion of investment in the hotel and tourism sector, real estate and home property acquisition, ship or yacht registration, aircraft registration and the dissemination of accurate and timely information on the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP). “The government is committed to signing both an investor protection agreement, as well as an avoidance of double taxation agreement with the government of the UAE. The finalisation of these documents will establish the framework necessary to ensure a path for additional investor dollars to our shores,” the minister said.
Westminster and Brussels raise the heat on corporate tax avoidance
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be on the warpath this week when representatives from Google and HMRC appear before them on 11 February, reports Economia. It has been widely reported that Google agreed to pay £130m in back taxes after an open audit of its accounts by the UK tax authorities and the PAC will no doubt be scrutinising that outcome closely. They have form in reviewing whether HMRC and corporate taxpayers are meeting public expectations of the tax system. In 2012, the PAC already looked into how successful companies with huge operations in the UK pay little or no corporation tax and concluded that, “international companies were able to exploit national and international tax structures to minimise corporation tax on the economic activity they conducted in the UK”. They also found that “HMRC was not taking sufficiently aggressive action to assess and collect the appropriate amount of corporation tax from these multinationals”. The PAC kick-started 2016 with an evidence session with top HMRC officials as part of its inquiry into how HMRC responds to tax evasion and the hidden economy. It is not just in Westminster where corporate tax avoidance finds itself in the spotlight. At a European level, the European Commission recently set out its action plan to fight aggressive tax practices by large companies. Presenting this package of reforms to the European Parliament at the end of January, the European Commissioner identified the scale of lost revenue as €50-70bn Europe-wide. The proposals are intended as concrete steps to fulfil the 2015 work programme promise to clamp down on tax evasion and tax avoidance, and ensure that companies pay tax where they generate profits. The message from Brussels – loud and clear – is that 2016 should be the year of corporate tax reform and fiscal transparency. The EU package against tax avoidance contains a series of initiatives for a stronger and more coordinated EU stance against corporate tax abuse. It includes rules aimed at stopping tax avoidance arrangements – for example profit shifting – which seek to bring the EU in line with proposals from the OECD and G20 against tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) – agreements in which the UK Government has played a leading role. That said, the EU directive seeks to address any divergence in implementation of the international rules by seeking a minimum level of harmonisation within the EU’s single market. The EU package proposes six legally binding anti-abuse measures, which all member states should apply, against common forms of aggressive tax planning. It aims to create a minimum level of protection against corporate tax avoidance throughout the EU, while “ensuring a fairer and more stable environment for businesses.” The package also includes a revision of the administrative cooperation directive, where national authorities will exchange tax-related information on multinational companies’ activities, on a country-by-country basis. And it includes a recommendation on tax treaties, which advises member states on the best ways to protect their tax treaties against abuse. The passage of the directive will not be without debate. National governments hold their tax levying powers dear and the proposals will have to be adopted by all member states on a unanimous basis. That said, with corporate tax in the media and political spotlight, the pressure will be on for reform. In his Autumn Statement last year, chancellor George Osborne committed to raise at least £5bn as a result of the Government’s clampdown on tax avoidance and evasion. Whilst proposals for a corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion were not brought forward last year, what is becoming increasingly clear is that advisors and individuals need to be alert to the trend for HMRC to aggressively pursue those who try to avoid tax increasingly via criminal law means. Article compliments IFC Review.