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Common ground on EU blacklist

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019. 9:54 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The recent decision by the European Union and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to blacklist Belize as a non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes after first giving Belize the green light, appears to have united Belize’s political leadership, at least on this one issue.

The Government has raised significant concerns about the flawed conclusions drawn about the country’s obligation to work with its global partners in establishing an up-to-date, fair international tax framework.  G.O.B. is also questioning the process leading to the E.U. decision.

Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives saw amendments to the International Business Companies Act, as well as the International Financial Services Act, read through in their entirety.

According to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow, the E.U. and OECD demanded that something be done about the International Business Companies Act and International Financial Services Act, “… to make sure that all international business companies must have a physical presence in Belize, a physical premises.” Belize undertook to pass the amendments on March fifteenth pending consultation with stakeholders, but citing continued violation of harmful tax practices under the country regime, said Barrow, Belize was blacklisted on February twenty-seventh. It remains to be seen whether this will placate the powerful grouping.

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition, suggested that the developed countries are taking advantage of Belize’s unique position. “Here we have a competitive advantage where we can set up certain tax advantages to foreign companies and individuals so that they can save their taxes and we can benefit, and then they change the rules on us.  Why don’t the EU blacklist the Americans?”

 But he also noted that Belize waited until almost the last minute to change the laws, having had from early 2017 to do so and not completing it until the end of 2018. Nonetheless, he agrees with the Prime Minister that Belize got a raw deal.

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