The regional grouping of the EU decided in 2017 to adopt a new set of tax standards over and above that set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the international organization mandated by a wide range of Member States to monitor and set standards of compliance on tax good governance. When this list was first issued in December 2017, Dominica and other Caribbean islands were put on a grey list and were asked by the EU to commit to making certain changes within one year, to avoid being put on a blacklist.
The DLP Government claims that Dominica was put on the grey list in December 2017 notwithstanding the complete devastation of Maria in September 2017, and despite these very difficult and devastating circumstances and conditions, they complied with all the legislative changes that were requested by the EU.
The government further claims that one of the requirements requested by the EU was joining the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters which requires the sanction of the OECD. This would have allowed for the passage of the Automatic Exchange of Information Act, that the EU had requested. Government says they applied to the OECD to join that Convention since 31st May 2017; answered all questions and provided all information required, and had anticipated a positive response by the end of December 2018. However, and through no fault of theirs, they have to date, not been given final clearance from the OECD, or a substantive response to their application.
The Skerrit led DLP government stated that in February this year, they wrote to the EU requesting an extension of time to allow for a response to be obtained from the OECD to their application, and that regrettably, they received no response.
The Government of Dominica now says notwithstanding all of their efforts, they have been blacklisted by the EU on the “grounds” that “Dominica does not apply any automatic exchange of financial information, has not signed and ratified the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance as amended, and has not yet resolved these issues.”
The government of Dominica insists this EU statement is misleading, and manifestly unfair, because the only reason why Dominica “has not signed and ratified the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance as amended, is that the OECD has to date not given the go ahead to Dominica to sign on.
The government however acknowledges that the EU has been a very good development partner of Dominica, and has responded in a positive and very tangible way, and has been working with Dominica very closely to respond to the challenges of Hurricane Maria.
The DLP government says that in all of the circumstances, they are surprised and dismayed at the decision that the EU ECOFIN Council communicated yesterday, and that they will at all costs endeavor to have the OECD respond to their request to address this sole outstanding issue with the EU.