By Shanieka Smith & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, October 12, 2022 – The European Council said that regrettably, the 12 jurisdictions on the list are defiant with regard to tax matters, however, they are being encouraged to address these issues by becoming engaging with the EU’s Code of Conduct Group and among them are Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and The Bahamas.
The three Caribbean region countries were recently added to the European Union’s (EU) tax haven blacklist which comprises non-cooperative jurisdictions and was assembled by the EU in December 2017 with the aim to promote good tax governance globally.
Still, Oxfam tax expert Chiara Putaturo in expressing his disapproval, said the blacklist is a “whitewash”. He stated that the criteria are unfair for countries outside of Europe, especially since European countries such as Malta have been overlooked.
The blacklisting comes just weeks after Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis complained that some tax grading schemes were skewed; he said this at the most recent UN General Assembly in New York.
The Turks and Caicos Islands was gray-listed in March this year. At that time, E Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier had announced he would produce to fix it.
For Turks and Caicos is it not fixed; the situation is worsened with the overseas territory going from gray to black on this highly regarded watchdog listing.
Typically, the EU adds gray listed countries to the blacklist if they do not complete the reforms to which they’ve committed in due time.
The Bahamas Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Israel, Montserrat, Russia, Tunisia and Vietnam are also grey-listed.
Deputy Premier Sanders told our newsroom he will be addressing the nation in a press conference soon on the issue.
Two years prior, the European Union had made a commitment to revise the list however to date nothing has been done. Of the 20 jurisdictions listed by the Tax Justice Network as the world’s worst corporate tax havens only one is currently on the blacklist. Similarly, only one which was identified by Oxfam in 2016 is on the list.
Putaturo stated that by putting an end to tax havens the “world’s richest and corporates” would now have to pay their dues fairly and this would in turn lower the cost of living for people and reduce the stress placed on governments across the world.
The European Union will next update is list in February 2023.
Statement From The Ministry of Foreign Affairs – On Order For All Bahamians To Leave Haiti
Bahamas takes in 396 Haitian migrants; shocking interception
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, January 25, 2023 – In what is being described by Bahamian officials as one of the largest human smuggling incidents in the region, 394 Haitian migrants were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard near Cay Sal Island on Saturday, January 21.
According to immigration officials in The Bahamas, the migrants will be processed on the island of Inagua and later repatriated.
US Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll described the condition of the intercepted boat to the Associated Press on Monday. She said, “it was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe.”
The officials did not provide any further information on the matter.
The recent apprehension brings the total number of Haitian migrants intercepted in Bahamian waters since the start of the year to just over five hundred (500) persons.
Due to the worsening humanitarian, a surge in gang violence and deepening political instability in Haiti, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their country in search of a better life for themselves and family.
Governor and Premier make official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas
#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – On 4th to 8th December 2022, a delegation led by His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin and the Premier, Honorable Charles W. Missick made an official visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The delegation also included officials from the National Security Secretariat, Police, TCI Regiment and the Office of the Premier.
Day one of the three-day visit included meetings with: the Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Phillip Davis; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service, Hon. Frederick Mitchell; the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Wayne Monroe; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Commodore Raymond King and the British High Commission.
The agenda for the second day involved a courtesy call with H.E. Governor General, Sir Cornelius Smith, followed by detailed meetings with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, led by its Commander, Dr Raymond King and the Royal Bahamas Police Force led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Leamond Deleveaux. This included a tour of the Defence Force base at Coral Harbour. The second day ended with a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Michael Pintard.
On the third day, the TCI delegation was hosted by the United States Embassy led by Mrs. Usha Pitts, Charge d’ Affaires, and the United States Coast Guard led by Captain Benjamin Golightly. That evening a reception was held by the Charge d’ Affaires and, on the previous evening, a formal Dinner by the Governor General.
The focus of the visit was threefold – to say thank you to the Government of the Bahamas for their support over the last year – particularly the deployment of twenty-four Bahamian Police Officers to TCI and the operationalizing of the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider Agreement. TCI also noted and welcomed the decentralization of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force which brought naval assets closer to the TCI borders and opportunities to further fuse and co-ordinate our collective surveillance assets, including TCI being invited to provide Liaison Officers in the Bahamas Defense Force Command Centre to better fuse maritime intelligence.
Secondly, to brief on and discuss matters of shared National Security interests and threats. Thematic areas of mutual interest included: Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) including the next OPBAT conference, scheduled for March 2023; maritime security (future ratification of jurisdictional boundaries between the TCI and Bahamas); expansion of coastal radar networks; decentralization of Defence Force naval assets; expanding the Bahamas/TCI Ship-Rider program; and sharing of resources, information and intelligence which will be aided by TCI’s new legal intercept provisions.
Additionally, through discussions with Bahamian colleagues, it was evident that TCI and the Bahamas face similar threats individually and collectively in the region including trans-national gangs, smuggling of people, illicit drugs and weapons and the continued destabilization of Haiti – which if left unchecked – could lead to a mass migration event that could have significant implications for the Lucayan Island chain (TCI and Bahamas).
Thirdly, the delegation from TCI sought to explore areas to deepen and strengthen TCI’s friendship with the Bahamas – now and in the future. TCI advised of its intention to seek full membership of CARICOM – for which a letter of entrustment that allows for this negotiation has been provided by the United Kingdom. Deliberations consisted of a request to extend the Bahamian Police contingent in TCI – since agreed – and strengthening the: National Security-to-National Security, Police-to-Police and Military–to-Military relationships including information sharing, improved collaboration and training.
Moreover, the unanimous resolve is to establish and strengthen a relationship between our national security functions on all matters of national security. In this first instance, both countries will seek to learn from each other on two key common challenges: informal settlements and causes of crime.
Furthermore, the TCI offered the Royal Bahamas Defence Force an opportunity to host and deploy their naval assets in Grand Turk, to jointly task the aerial surveillance aircraft that is being procured by the United Kingdom, for TCI, and to share – in real time, TCI’s coastal radar network with the Maritime Operations Center in the Bahamas. This mutually beneficial arrangement will expand the Bahamian southern border of protection while allowing for increased coverage of TCI’s waters.
Also, the Premier, in communicating his intention to open an official TCIG office in Nassau in February 2023 had this to say:
“As part of the Turks and Caicos development goals it is important to leverage the broad contribution that our kin and kind offer to the homeland. While we are reaching out to our global diaspora family it is generally believed that the largest proportion of Turks and Caicos Islanders live through-out the Bahamas: for that reason it is only fitting that we start by establishing an office there. The office will not have consular status but will with deference to the Governor’s office liaise with the British High Commission in Nassau where and when required to do so.
Additionally, the Bahamas is our closest neighbour. The people of our countries share similar cultures, close family ties and perform important roles in each other countries. We also enjoy a high level of informal co-operation in many fields including security, medicine law and politics. Additionally, we share leadership of several church and civic organisations. The Bahamas has been a friend to the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is only fitting that we formally recognise our friendship and a commitment to work closely together in our mutual interest. An office in the Nassau will help us to do just that. We also welcome the expressed intention of the Bahamas to establish a consular office in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
H.E Nigel Dakin said:
“The Bahamas could not have made us feel more welcome or valued. The regional and trans-national threats we face are too large for TCI to face alone. Indeed, because criminals and smugglers so easily cross borders, they are too large for the Bahamas, or even the US, to face alone. We are stronger together – and our individual security needs to be increasingly thought of in terms of our collective security.
We have worked diligently over recent years to strengthen OPBAT. We can feel the difference at sea, and the Bahamas support to our Policing effort has helped demonstrate that very clearly to our population on land.
But there is so much more we can do together – particularly in the area of intelligence sharing, where TCI is developing, and will develop further strength, that our allies can draw on. While the threat won’t diminish, I’m confident our collective response will only now accelerate, and we can disrupt and arrest those that believe they can operate between and against our jurisdictions. I look forward to the OPBAT Conference in March to continue this engagement and I’m grateful that the Bahama’s have chosen to continue their Tactical Firearms Officer Support to us as we enter 2023”.
Header: (From Left to right: Premier Hon. C. Washington Misick, HE Governor Nigel Dakin, Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. E. Chester Cooper)
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