CARIBBEAN nations are being “threatened” the unilateral decision of the European Union to “blacklist” several islands, including TT, as tax havens, even as the region has tried to comply with the necessary legislative requirements.
“We have been threatened by the EU to ensure we comply by what they want. There is an urgency to enact legislation so that we can comply as quickly as possible,” Rowley told reporters Wednesday evening at the Piarco International Airport, after his return from a Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Haiti.
He added that all territories must have at least tabled, if not completed, the necessary legislative programme by the time the Caricom heads meet again in Jamaica on July 4. On December 5, the EU released a list of “non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes,” including TT, Grenada, Barbados and St Lucia.
“We did not expect the EU to treat us like that. It is not quite accurate. We have been complying and trying to meet the requirments,” Rowley said. The legislative requirements include anti-terrorism laws and stronger tax reporting laws.
Rowley noted that at this meeting, Caricom had moved to adopt a counter-terrorism strategy. He added that while the Carnival terror threat in TT was not “discussed in detail,” the general understanding in all territories was that there were “situations to attend to and law enforcement has to be available.” He said other islands were “very worried, but what can they do about it?”
“What we can do, because they are worried is to try to eliminate the threat that violent crime poses. That was expressed across the meeting by virtually every country. Crime remains a number one focus, (in order) to not have a damaging effect on other countries,” he said, specifically in reference to concerns about tourism in the region. He added that the government had information that “approximately 200 people” would fall under the concern of being involved in ISIS related activities.