A PROCESS has started that could very well see St. Lucia being removed from the European Union’s (EU) blacklist as a country with harmful preferential tax regimes.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet yesterday told reporters that government held a conference call with EU officials on Monday on the matter. This will be followed by a letter of commitment to the EU detailing St. Lucia’s position on the issue and its intentions vis-a-vis what the EU is asking for.
News of St. Lucia being one of 17 countries blacklisted by the EU did not sit well with citizens when the list was released last month.
The opposition St. Lucia Labour Party heavily criticized the government for its failure to commit to certain issues pertaining to its tax regimes, as outlined by the EU, by December this year.
The issue is still in the public domain as the EU just recently removed eight countries from its blacklist. However, St. Lucia remains on the list.
Chastanet, who left the country yesterday, said government found out that St. Lucia was blacklisted late last year.
“We all found out at end of October that we were on the blacklist. At that point, the European Union said they wanted to receive a letter of commitment that we would abolish or amend certain legislation that we have without providing any level of detail as to what that was,” Chastanet said.
“Immediately, St. Lucia wrote, agreeing to sit down and, based on mutual dialogue, amend and, if necessary, abolish any offensive taxation. Unfortunately, the EU put a bunch of us on the list. Since then, the process is that there would be a conference call with the technical committee which goes into greater detail as to what they find so offensive. What we have ascertained is that before they get into any level of detail, they want us to sign a stronger letter of commitment that we intend to either abolish or amend the legislation,” Chastanet added.
He continued: “We are sending that letter again to reiterate our position. There is a review committee early in February, I think, and once the committee accepts St. Lucia’s letter, then the process of coming off the list and going into what is called the grey list starts, and then there is continued dialogue about what they find offensive and, hopefully, we can get the thing sorted out. So I’m very confident that at the next technical meeting that St. Lucia will be coming off the list.”
The conference call took place on Monday and although the expected letter from St. Lucia is not yet in the hands of the European Union, it has already been drafted.