More dialogue should have taken place before blacklisting – EU official

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The European Commission’s (E.C.) Stefano Manservisi, the director-general of international cooperation and development, believes there could have been more dialogue between the Commission and those countries blacklisted as tax havens.
Manservisi led a team to Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday and met Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other government officials before visiting Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda is not on the blacklist, but only because it was one of several islands affected by September’s hurricanes. Instead, it finds itself on a so-called grey list, which indicates that it is not compliant with the European Union’s (E.U.) tax avoidance standards but is taking steps to remedy it. Those on the grey list have until the end of the year to do so.
“This is something which is hurting and I admit this because probably in terms of, let’s say dialogue, we could have done better,” Manservisi told Observer media after returning from Barbuda.
 The official said there is a clear need to stop the large companies from avoiding to pay their fair share of taxes and that is a mandate that the E.U. taxpayers support.
“Probably we could have started with the dialogue, but we’ve learned a lesson on this and now … many countries of the region are willing to comply, others are about to do it and we will have an important seminar in Barbados in May,” Manservisi said.
That workshop, he added, will be about identifying what needs to be done and how to do it.
“We are ready to supply financial and technical assistance to implement this roadmap,” Manservisi said.
“I think that all governments in the world should be united in establishing level playing fields for taxation.”
Antigua and Barbuda, like the other island jurisdictions on the lists, came in for scrutiny because of the disparity between its domestic corporate tax rates and the offshore banking tax rates. The domestic rate here is 25 percent whilst the offshore banking rate goes no higher than 2.5 percent.
The E.U. wants those rates to be harmonised and PM Browne has indicated that his government will move to align the rates at 20 percent.
 The blacklisted countries in the region are the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while the others on the grey list include Anguilla, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Grenada.
St. Lucia joins the others on the grey list after being removed from the blacklist earlier this month.

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