As we've been reporting this week, Belize has been blacklisted by the European Union for its offshore banking regulations. These same regulations had been approved by the EU in January - but now, local industry insiders are saying - he Europeans have shifted he goalposts. So today, two pieces of legislation amending the International Business Companies At and he International Financial Services Commission Act had to be rushed through he house. The Prime Minister explained why in his budget presentation:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"The European Union's Code of Conduct Group found that Belize's IBC regimes still contained harmful tax features. They demanded, under pain of being "black-listed", more action on the part of Belize. Now it must be stressed that all this was despite the fact that EU Code of Conduct Group is itself a senior member of the OECD Forum. The same OECD Forum that just a few weeks before, with the full involvement of the Code of Conduct Group, had given Belize a "Clean Bill of Health"."
"On the face of it, Madam Speaker, this is outrageous. But the power disparity in international relations is all that counts. And thus the EU treats us with nothing but rank contempt in these matters. And there is no point in troubling deaf heaven with our bootless cries. So we are once again forced to eat injustice and perform the usual contortions to satisfy a new set of unconscionable dictates. We will therefore be introducing at this sitting of the House further amendments to the IBC and IFSC Acts to try to bring them into compliance with the new moving targets."
Hon. John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition
"I do agree with the prime minister on this one though, that I believe that these developed countries they're taking advantage of us. 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 doesn't the EU blacklist the Americans? The Americans are the ones that have had one of the biggest tax havens but they don't go after the United States, they come at small countries like. So with this one I am with the prime minister."
The bills were pushed through today to try and meet EU deadlines.