PREMATURE AND IMPROPER: Trinidad and Tobago government dismisses tax haven label

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran told the Trinidad Guardian newspaper that he had been in contact with the French embassy here “to get clarity as to what was the meaning behind the statement” by Sarkozy.

“I thought that statement was premature and perhaps improper,” he added.

Last week, Sarkozy at the end of the G20 summit in France named 11 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, as tax havens for failing to meet transparency standards.

But Dookeran told the newspaper that citizens should not be bothered by Sarkozy’s comments.

He said that the global forum that promotes transparency in taxation matters was a body in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and that it was engaged in a peer review “in order to come to conclusions regarding the adherence to the international standards”.

He said the Trinidad and Tobago government had taken a decision “to become a member of that group recently and we are currently involved in that peer review process.

“In the meantime, we continue to meet the intentional standards as required in the peer review,” said Dookeran, noting that Trinidad and Tobago was among the countries present at the peer review meeting last year.

“We are dealing with the global forum in the OECD and he (Sarkozy) is speaking from a platform of the G20. 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 said.

He told the newspaper that the five-party coalition People’s Partnership government “has been trying to rectify the situation (and) I have no doubt that matter will be resolved”.

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