One of the string of bills passed into law by the House, is to cause the removal of Belize from the European Union’s blacklist. In March of this year, Belize was one of many jurisdictions blacklisted as tax havens by the E.U. According to the E.U., Belize, like the other countries, has shortfalls when it comes to laws that could ultimately favour tax evasions in other countries. Back then, G.O.B. quickly rejected the designation of the country on the list of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes, but today six bills were passed. Prime Minister Dean Barrow provided details as to why.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“They all have to do with this troubling matter of being blacklisted by the European Union with respect to activities in our offshore financial sector. We that is the government, the International Financial Services Commission and the principals that are in fact leading the Offshore Practitioners Association together we have been trying to work with the European Union to in fact produce the legislation that they require in a form acceptable to them because that is what is necessary in order to get us removed from the black list. It is time sensitive. Their next meeting is being held just after I think the middle of this month and that is why we would wish to pass the required legislation in the case of the house today and hopeful the legislation can also get through the Senate next week so that we would then be able offer proof of the assent by His Excellence the Governor General to the European Union and in that way since they in fact approved the copy of the bills we should then be able to go free and clear of this cursed blacklist.”
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“We need to clear the ambiguity of the bill and again this was brought up to my attention by members of the Offshore Practitioners and maybe the Prime Minister can help clarified this. If an IBC cannot procure such documents will the presumption is that the IBC is tax residence? And therefore subject to economic substance requirements. Especially when you consider under the newly enacted tax administration and procedure act, and IBC once incorporated in Belize is deemed taxable. I think that is something that we need to clear up Mr. Prime Minister. We need to take this into consideration Mr. Prime Minister that the IFC they are having problems with their efficiencies right now. I was given a copy of an email where a client was writing to them as to why is it that they are taking so long for their documents and their questions, I won’t go into it but it was important that I present this so that we can find a way to clear up these question. They believe that as it is the IFC is already overwhelmed and to have thousands of IBCs to present more forms and more documents they are simply going to be overwhelmed. They are conducting timely audits and monitoring as the act requires. We are not careful hopefully by what we are doing today have the EU lift the blacklist against us but if we are not complying with what we have in the legislation then they will blacklist us once again.”