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SVG off France’s black-list

SVG off France’s black-list

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St Vincent and the Grenadines has been taken off a list of countries blacklisted by France, for failure to cooperate on tax issues.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, at the meeting of Parliament on Tuesday, February 28, announced the removal of this country from the blacklist, saying that the official notification was received from the Office for European and International Affairs, of the French Tax Policy Directorate in France, on February 16, informing the government that this country was taken off the list as of January this year.

“The Ministry of Finance welcomes the removal [of SVG] from the French black list of tax havens, as it considers there was no merit in placing St Vincent and the Grenadines on such a list in the first place,” the prime minister said.

St Vincent and the Grenadines was one of 18 countries around the world and 9 from the Caribbean region that was blacklisted by the French, Gonsalves explained, a decision which followed from an initiative by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to label countries black, white or grey, depending on the individual country’s level of tax cooperation.

The OECD had grey listed this country back in April 2009 as being a country, which while being committed to the international tax standards of transparency, had not demonstrated this commitment.

And according to Gonsalves, France’s decision to blacklist was separate from the action taken by the OECD.

The country was subsequently removed from the OECD’s grey list after the government completed the requisite number of Tax Information Exchange Agreements, 12 in all, which illustrated the commitment to tax transparency and exchange the prime minister said.

St Vincent and France signed a tax exchange agreement in April 2010, but was blacklisted by France later that year, although the internal negotiations had commenced Gonsalves explained.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines has no record of being uncooperative with France,” the prime minister contended, adding that it appeared as though the country was included in the black list because it operated a financial services industry.

“It appears as though the left hand in France does not know what the right is doing,” Gonsalves said.

By March 1, 2010, this country had signed 18 tax agreements Gonsalves said, adding that this number represented more than what was required to meet international standards.

He subsequently wrote a letter to Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France and Francois Baroin, France’s Minister of Finance, requesting this country’s removal from the blacklist.

This prompted the prime minister to urge members of the House to defend this country’s sovereignty and guard against “anything that seeks to derogate from the judicial capacity of our state.”

“We made our position clear to France,” Gonsalves said.

He further explained that among the countries blacklisted were some that had clean financial jurisdictions.

“It is as though people are looking for excuses for the melt down in their own countries – in the United States and Europe – the lack of proper regulation and order and try to blame other people for their problems,” the prime minister said.

But this country had nothing to do with the crash of international capitalism, Gonsalves explained, but rather has had to bear the consequences. (DD)

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