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Daily Nation (Barbados)


'Ignore The OECD'

by Tony Best

     Don't listen to the rich nations club when it threatens Barbados and its neighbours with economic sanctions over their offshore financial services centres.

     That's what the Centre for Freedom and Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation in the United States want Barbados and other Caribbean countries to do.

     The rich nation's club is the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and it is to sit down at Sherbourne Conference Centre on Monday and Tuesday to discuss issues of taxes and money laundering with representatives of various Caribbean islands, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the International Monetary Fund and the Caribbean Development Bank. 

     "The OECD is a paper tiger and is a bully which is trying to set up an international tax cartel," said Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow of the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "We are advising Barbados, Antigua, the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations not to listen to the OECD which wants to make the Caribbean islands nothing more than financial colonies. The election of George Bush as the next President of the United States will have a significant effect on the OECD's threats to the economic well-being of the various countries in the Caribbean." 

     Mitchell, the Heritage Foundation's chief economist, told the SATURDAY SUN that the Centre for Freedom and Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Coalition for Tax Competition had established a "truth squad" whose members would seek to get the facts about the OECD action to Caribbean officials.

     "With the departure of Larry Summers as the United States secretary of the treasury in less than a month and the entry into the Bush administration of some key people, including Larry Lindsey as President Bush's top economic adviser, we are likely to see a new approach to this issue of low tax jurisdictions," he said. "We want the islands to recognise that they don't have to be the fiscal colonies of the OECD which isn't united on this question of low tax jurisdictions." 

     Two members of the "truth squad" are Bruce Zagaris, a top international tax lawyer, in Washington, and Elizabeth Tobias, who is a top aide to the Republican majority leader in the United States House of Representatives, Richard "Dick" Armey. 

     The "truth squad" is holding briefings at Grand Barbados today and tomorrow as a run-up to Monday's meeting.


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