(Trinidad Guardian) Finance Minister Winston Dookeran says French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s naming of T&T as a tax haven was premature and improper. Dookeran said that when contacted for comment on the matter yesterday. Sarkozy was quoted in international news reports on Friday as saying at the end of the G20 summit in France that Trinidad and Tobago was among 11 countries which were listed as tax haven for failing to meet transparency standards. Two other Caricom states were included in the 11-nation list of tax haven states. They were Barbados and Antigua/Barbuda. But Dookeran, in a response to Sarkozy, said yesterday that the people of T&T should not be bothered by Sarkozy’s comments.
Dookeran said the global forum that promotes transparency in taxation matters was a body in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He said that body was engaged in a peer review “in order to come to conclusions regarding the adherence to the international standards.” The Finance Minister said the T&T Cabinet “took a decision to become a member of that group (in the OECD) recently and we are currently involved in that peer review process. “I thought that statement (by Sarkozy) was premature and perhaps improper,” he said. He added that he had been in touch with the French Embassy in Port-of- Spain “to get clarity as to what was the meaning behind that statement (by Sarkozy).”
Dookeran said: “In the meantime, we continue to meet the intentional standards as required in the peer review.” The former Central Bank Governor said T&T was among the countries which attended the peer review meeting within the last year. “We are dealing with the global forum in the OECD and he (the French President) is speaking from a platform of the G20,” Dookeran added. “So all I can say it is premature and perhaps improper, given that we are involved in the peer review to meet intentional standards.” Dookeran insisted the People’s Partnership Government “has been trying to rectify the situation (and) I have no doubt that matter will be resolved.” Other countries listed as tax havens were Botswana, Brunei, Panama, Seychelles, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.