Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has called on Caribbean countries to collaborate and coordinate to enhance their preparedness for global changes and protect their revenue bases.
“We are small. We have a common history. These factors should allow us to be nimble and agile in response to the changing global tax landscape, which is undergoing a transformation ,” he said.
Dr. Clarke, who chairs the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP), was speaking during the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/CARICOM regional meeting opening ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Tuesday (November 22).
The Minister, in his keynote address, pointed out that the regional three-day meeting is taking place at a time of “significant upheaval and change” globally.
He noted that the Caribbean was the region hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, measured by average GDP contraction.
Dr. Clarke also highlighted other challenges that Caribbean governments are grappling with, including the lingering impact of pandemic, war, natural disasters and debt, and now the potential effects of changes in the global tax landscape.
The Minister said Caribbean governments will be called upon, during this period, to finely balance the needs for promoting economic growth, raising revenue and ensuring compatibility with international tax developments.
“The fact is that aspects of the CARICOM Tax Treaty, which was entered into at a very different time, may now be inconsistent with global standards. If so, let us be proactive and update and not find ourselves in a position where this inconsistency is brought to our attention by the threat of sanction.”
Approximately 80 delegates from countries across the region are attending the conference, being co-hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), in association with the OECD.
It continues on the outcomes of the COFAP meetings convened on July 3 and September 23 and will focus on, among other things, key tax and development opportunities and challenges facing Caribbean economies.
Dr. Clarke said arising from the discussions, should be “action points that we can take back to COFAP, get the support of finance ministers and then, ultimately, the support of the heads of governments across the region for the Caribbean to step forward, be proactive, be bold, and to make the kind of changes that are beneficial to us as a region”.