Port-of-Spain -- April 21, 2009 -- Reaffirming that there is
no justification for the United States to name The Bahamas in a stop
taxation bill, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham said The
Bahamas does not expect that its name will appear in such legislation
at the end of the day.
At the 5th
Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad Saturday, leaders of
the Caribbean Community (Caricom) met with members of the US House of
Representatives Financial Services Committee and a Congressional
delegation led by Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
Charles Rangel and Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee
Eliot Engel on the United States’ stop taxation initiative.
The initiative is an effort to prevent US citizens
from using offshore jurisdictions to avoid or evade paying taxes owed
to the US government. Such an initiative could affect The Bahamas to
the extent that legislation including The Bahamas on a list of
countries regarded as tax havens could negatively affect the country’s
reputation as a place to invest and do business.
Mr. Ingraham said, “The US Congressmen were not able
to provide a justification for [The Bahamas being named]. There is no
justification for the Americans to put The Bahamas in a stop taxation
Bill - the facts do not square with that. We expect therefore that at
the end of the day our name will not appear in any such legislation.”
Prime Minister Ingraham said he previously wrote to
Congressman Rangel on The Bahamas’ position, and had also written on
behalf of Caricom at the Community’s request.
“I think he gave us sufficient assurances about the
Bill to cause most of our members to be comfortable,” Mr. Ingraham
advised. “There will be some additional discussions with the Congress.”
Calling the stop taxation initiative “misguided”
insofar as The Bahamas is concerned, Prime Minister Ingraham explained:
“We have cooperated with the United States fully, we have a tax
information exchange agreement with them, the Treasury Department and
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would all certify that all requests
made in The Bahamas have been responded to appropriately.”
Mr. Ingraham advised that negotiations on a Tax
Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with Canada and other countries
are currently underway.
Caricom met in bilateral talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday.
During those talks, Prime Minister Harper announced
that Canada would make 160 additional scholarships for Caribbean
students to study at colleges and universities there, Mr. Ingraham said.