By Pita Ligaiula in Luanda, Angola
The European Union (EU) blacklisting member states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (OACPS) has been described as a “fig leaf” exercise.
OACPS Secretary General, Georges Rebelo Chikoti told journalists in Luanda, the EU name-and-shame exercise is painful for those countries concerned.
“Well, indeed, I think this issue is not only for the Caribbean States, but also some of the African states and other island states, may it be on the Indian Ocean, and beyond. I do believe that the listing of states or member states, particularly of the OACPS is a very unfair process. It is not transparent process when countries are listed.
“They stay on a blacklist for a time, sometimes too long. And it affects the image of those countries. And, indeed, this is one of the battles that Ambassadors in Brussels do carry very strongly to make sure that this blacklisting does not continue, and that their member states are deeply affected by this blacklisting, which is not indeed, transparent.
“We do not know how we get on to those lists. And sometimes we do not know how we come out of those lists. But I do appreciate particularly the role played by the OACPS in Brussels to make sure that first the process is known. And it is transparent. And that member states understand why they are on the blacklist, and that they are removed,” SG Chikoti stressed.
Three Caribbean countries Anguilla, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands were added to the EU blacklist of tax-havens this year, because the EU claims they facilitate “offshore structures and arrangements aimed at attracting profits without real economic substance”.
Nine more countries that were already designated are staying on the register, which was rubber-stamped by EU finance ministers without further discussion in October this year,
The nine other EU-designated tax offenders are American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S Virgin Islands, and Vanuatu.
The EU also publishes a parallel but separate blacklist of high-risk countries for money laundering and terrorist financing.
The tax-haven blacklist comes with sanctions because EU countries do increased audits on individuals and monitoring of transactions from designated countries.
“And if they are removed, they no longer come back on those lists. So, I think that it is a very unfair process. And it should stop. And they think that we will continue in as much as we can to make sure that this process is better handled, and that our countries are not affected by this process of blacklisting,” Chikoti emphasised.
Last month, Luke Daunivalu, Fiji’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva told the 45th session of the OACPS-EU Council of Ministers in Brussels the blacklisting of some OACPS is damaging their economies, and that the EU should suspend the practice.