Prime Minister applauds hemispheric focus upon tax information exchange

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The Prime Minister leads a delegation which includes Senator the Hon. Carl Bethel, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education, the Hon. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joshua Sears, Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, Viana Gardiner, Chief Operating Officer, Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Mrs. Patricia Minnis and other officials.

Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said that The Bahamas is pleased that the Lima Commitments are inclusive of tax information exchange, which previously placed small island states at a disadvantage. He was addressing the Plenary Session of the Eighth Summit of the Americas on Saturday morning. The summit was held at the Lima Convention Centre from April 13-14, 2018 under the theme: “Democratic Governance Against Corruption.” The Prime Minister said that The Bahamas is pleased with the prioritization of education in the Lima Commitments document, given the important role education can play in preventing corruption and bolstering democratic governance.

About 22 years ago, member states of the hemisphere adopted the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, the first international agreement of its kind in the world. The Bahamas firmly endorses the tenets of the Lima Commitments document, the Prime Minister said. “These Commitments establish a baseline which each country of the hemisphere should aim to achieve. The tenets are tools for us to hold each other accountable. “It is only through cooperation and collaboration that countries will be able to curtail the webs of corruption that often extend across borders, after involving transnational criminal activity in our interconnected world.” The Bahamas also applauds the inclusion of a mandate to establish a hemispheric focus upon tax information exchange, “which has until now, been a rather one-sided, indeed lopsided conversation,” the Prime Minister said.

He added, “Accordingly, we are pleased that the Lima Commitments acknowledge the importance of technical assistance, to ensure states have the necessary support to implement regional and, international anti-corruption obligations. “Too often as small states we are subject to norms developed without meaningful engagement from us, norms which may not be applied uniformly to all jurisdictions. “We look forward to a balanced dialogue, where we meet as equals on matters that are of importance to us all,” The Prime Minister said. When setting regional or international standards, he said that there is the need to minimize unintended consequences that negatively impact small economies in the region, especially when devising regulatory mechanisms. “For many developing countries including small island states in the Caribbean region, for instance, the unintended consequence of loss of correspondent banking relationships requires a collaborative solution as stated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in 2016.”

Madame Lagarde appropriately noted:  “… All actors have a part to play: countries need to upgrade their regulatory frameworks; regulators in key financial centers need to clarify regulatory expectations and ensure consistent application over time, and global banks need to avoid knee-jerk reactions and find sensible ways to reduce their costs…” Concluded the Prime Minister, “We must ensure that our efforts do not have a backlash erosion of regional financial stability and inclusion.” The First Summit of the Americas was convened in Miami, Florida, United States, December 9–11, 1994. This summit was the first of a series of events leaders from 34 countries of the Americas. Since its inception, the Summit has served as the region’s highest-level process for cooperation on increasing economic competitiveness, fostering growth and development, improving regional and citizen security, and promoting democracy and human rights.

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