Four Caribbean countries have been included in a recently released blacklist which was adopted by the European Union on Tuesday.
The blacklist of tax havens includes 17 extra-EU jurisdictions seen as not cooperative on tax matters.
The Caribbean countries added to the countries listed are Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Saint Lucia. Other international jurisdictions include American Samoa, Bahrain, , Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Samoa, , Tunisia and United Arab Emirates
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mairesaid that other 47 jurisdictions are included in a public “gray” list of countries that are currently not compliant with EU standards but have committed to change their tax rules.
Following multiple disclosures of offshore tax avoidance schemes by companies and wealthy individuals, EU states launched a process in February to list tax havens in a bid to discourage setting up shell structures abroad which are themselves in many cases legal but could hide illicit activities.
Blacklisted countries could lose access to EU funds. Other possible countermeasures will be decided in coming weeks, Le Maire said.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says that the Caribbean countries need “a new and better deal” – one that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance – if the region intends to build climate resilience.
On Tuesday at the international conference to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by a series of powerful hurricanes, he said that countries in the Caribbean need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN member states.
He added however that financing remains a key challenge for many Caribbean countries, which have limited access to concessional finance because of their ‘middle income’ classification. He said they also have high levels of debt, much of it incurred through investment in recovery and resilience.
The United Nations Secretary-General said that there needs to be a new and better deal for the Caribbean, if those countries are to build climate resilience and achieve the SDGs and urged international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms.
“Today must be about more than speeches and pledges,” he said. “It is an opportunity to forge a partnership for a better future, and to deepen a vision for recovery that brings together all actors and puts people at its centre, as active development agents,” he added.
Two months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean just days apart, the region continues to receive assistance from a number of donor governments, agencies and banks.
The latest donation comes from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), with the setting up an emergency post-disaster reconstruction financing initiative.
The arrangement will support investments for infrastructure reconstruction projects in the Caribbean in the wake of the recent hurricanes. The new US$24 million financing package is an addition to the US$120 million climate action framework loan signed in May this year, and which remains the EIB’s biggest loan to the Caribbean.
According to news outlet “Caribbean News Now”, Eligible investments under the new loan will include infrastructure reconstruction, with a focus on “building back better” and integrating climate risk and vulnerability assessments into the projects. The article says that this will help reduce the bank’s borrowing member countries’ vulnerability to future natural disasters and worsening climate change impacts. As well as infrastructure, financing to communities for low-carbon and climate-resilience measures such as improved water resource management are also foreseen.
CDB president Warren Smith and EIB vice president responsible for climate action, Jonathan Taylor, signed the new agreement during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany.
With a focus on small island developing states, the CDB and EIB presented innovative solutions to climate challenges during an event focusing on climate action in the Caribbean. The presentation saw a number of stakeholders including prime minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell; prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet.
To date, CDB has committed all of the resources under the first climate action line of credit – US$65.6 million – for seven projects. This co-financing is associated with total project financing of US$191 million.
Antigua and Barbuda among three other Caribbean islands have officially been validated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) as countries to have completely eliminated the transmission of HIV and Syphilis from Mother to Child.
The landmark announcement was officially disclosed at the 31st Policy Board of the OCES/PPS and the 4th Council of Ministers meeting in Martinique, being held from November 9th to 10th.
The official validation certification ceremony will take place in St Kitts on the 1st of December 2017. The twin island state will be represented at the event by Minister of Health and the Environment-Molwyn Joseph and Director of Pharmaceutical-Mr. Alfred Athill.
In June 2015, Cuba became the first county in the world to eliminate Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis
According to Minister Joseph, this sterling achievement is a clear reflection of the development, investments and maturity of the country’s health system, and the commitment of healthcare professionals in Antigua and Barbuda.
Tourism stakeholders welcomed four cruise vessels to the St. John’s harbour on Tuesday which brought thousands of visitors to the nation’s shores.
One of the vessels the Mein Shift 6 was making its inaugural call to Antigua’s port after detouring from St. Maarten because of the damage to the island’s port.
It is not the first time this cruise line has visited the islands port however the Mein Shift 6, is the German based line’s newest edition and is one of the most luxurious vessel of its line.
A brief welcoming ceremony was held aboard the ship upon the request of the vessels captain where ministry officials and the ships management exchanged brief remarks along with plaques and tokens of appreciation.
The captain said he chose Antigua as its new port of call because English Harbour was one of his favorite ports in the Caribbean.
Public Relations Officer for the Tourism Ministry Samoya Kirby said Antigua and Barbuda was elated to have welcomed the vessel to its shores. She said the ceremony was done to ensure that cruise members and guests experience a warm welcome on behalf of all Caribbean islands.