British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing backlash in his country after an investigation found that the United Kingdom (UK) subsidized over 45 million pounds to so-called “tax havens”, including Belize.
According to British newspaper the Independent, an investigation conducted by that newspaper revealed that in 2013 the British government made substantial aid contributions to 13 countries included on the European Commission’s (EC) “tax haven” blacklist.
“Tax havens including Belize, Anguilla, and Panama have such high poverty levels that they qualify for substantial UK development grants”, the article said.
“UK aid funds have been directed to build an airport in Montserrat, and funds have been set aside to pay for roads and ports in Belize, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines,” it further revealed.
The Reporter attempted to contact Belize Financial Secretary Joseph Waight to confirm the amount of aid received by GOB and where it was used since the Independent reported no breakdown of the aid-funding was available. Waight, however, was unavailable for comment.
John Christensen, director of the British Tax Justice Network, described the situation as “incoherent” and warned that the countries’ tax policies were being pursued at the expense of their own local populations.
“This issue goes straight to the heart of the tax justice agenda; there is an obvious lack of policy coherence when development assistance is being provided to countries that deliberately choose to set low or zero tax rates on corporate profits, or offer hugely expensive tax exemptions but can’t afford to provide even basic public services like health, security and education to their citizens”, he told the Independent.
“Donor countries need to pay far more attention to whether aid-recipient countries are making sufficient effort to tax their wealthy citizens and tackle corporate tax avoidance. Tackling tax dodging is an important step towards reducing reliance on aid and external debt,” he added.
The listed countries who receive aid are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Seychelles, St. Vincent & Grenadines, and Vanuatu.The Reporter
============================== In face of 'tax haven' attack, CARICOM must unite
By Sir Ronald Sanders
No member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ranks among the top 20 jurisdictions worldwide for financial secrecy. The United States of America (at number 3), Germany (8), Japan (12) and Britain (15), all rate as bigger tax havens than any CARICOM jurisdiction, according to the Tax Justice Network (TJN), an independent European-based think-tank.
Further, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax purposes rates the US and European Union countries, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Greece and Estonia only in the second grade of jurisdictions that are compliant with international standards.
This shows how difficult it is for all countries, even those with huge financial and human resources to put in place the raft of legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures necessary to satisfy the international requirements being set by bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Commission of the European Union (EC) and the Global Forum (GF).
For instance, the TJN 2015 Report on Financial Secrecy says, “The US has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion.” It points out that the US states of Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada have for decades been operating as onshore secrecy havens, specialising in setting up shell companies catering to overseas individuals and companies seeking to hide assets.
Additionally, the renowned international tax lawyer, Dr Bruce Zagaris, has also observed that: “Even though the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) found the US non-compliant on corporate transparency and gate-keepers standards in 2006 and has strengthened their standards in 2012, neither the US nor the District of Columbia has improved their own”.
It is significant that, in the Global Forum rating for compliance, six CARICOM jurisdictions are in the same category as the US, Britain and Germany – three of the world’s biggest economies. And, in the TJN 2015 Financial Secrecy Report, CARICOM countries general are assessed as more open and transparent than the US, Britain and Germany. Click
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