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Fri 16th Sep 2016

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Tax avoidance and transparency – the world’s mood has changed!

European Union regulators demand greater tax transparency from multinationals. Under new proposals, tax avoidance by multinational corporations will be forced into the open. According to the EU, the massive data leak in the Panama papers has ‘shifted the public mood’. The public outcry following the exposure of the tax secrets of the global elite cannot be ignored.

The European Commission will put forward legislation requiring large multinationals operating in Europe to disclose profits earned and taxes paid in each of the EU’s 28 member states, as well as fiscal havens.

All large companies trading in Europe, including subsidiaries of non-European businesses, would have to publish how much tax they pay outside the EU, including detailed country-by-country information on their finances in tax havens.

Tax avoidance by the super-rich in SVG is a plague on our nation and is impoverishing our people. The super-rich of Mustique and Canouan do not pay tax and receive blanket tax and customs duty exemptions under the Mustique Act No 48 of 2002. This is immoral and would be condemned by EU regulators.

Taiwan operates a fleet of tuna-fishing vessels on SVG’s deep sea fish licence and uses SVG’s flag. Under the rules of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, Taiwan’s fishing vessels must offload their Atlantic Ocean tuna fish catch in St. Vincent and pay fish tax. However, Taiwan pays no fish tax. This is immoral and would be condemned by EU regulators.

The EU loses up to €70billion (EC$200 bn) a year through corporate tax avoidance, according to the European parliament. Large corporations, such as Apple and Starbucks, pay little tax despite earning billions in profits. The SVG Treasury loses about EC$3 billion a year through the tax avoidance of Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan.

The European Commission ruled that Apple (the US tech company) has enjoyed 25 years of illegal state support – a ‘special deal’. Likewise, Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan have enjoyed decades of a ‘special deal’ from the SVG government.

The European Commission has hit Apple with a €13bn EU tax bill penalty over illegal state aid. Likewise, Taiwan should be hit with a EC$40 billion tax bill and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan a EC$20 billion tax bill for their ‘special deal’ from the SVG government.

The European Commission said it is hard to justify to small- and medium-sized companies ‘why they should be paying at a higher effective tax rate’. Why are small- and medium-sized companies in SVG being forced to pay higher tax rates than Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan?

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Mr Ivan O’Neal, who a BSc hons degree in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University, England and an MSc degree in Macro Economic Planning, Policy and Budgeting from Bradford University, England, says SVG must adopt the European Union’s policy of transparency and eradicating tax avoidance by rich corporations in SVG.

Greater transparency is needed in SVG on the tax affairs of tax avoiders such as Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan. The Freedom of Information Act 2003 needs to be proclaimed and made in to a working law.

SVG is in serious financial difficulty. The economy is weak, poverty is rife and unemployment is very high. The start of the new school year is upon us and thousands of parents cannot afford to pay the registration fees for their children to attend schools and college.

Education should be free from preschool to university in SVG for all our children, regardless of their parents’ economic status. This would be possible if Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan paid tax.

SVG needs change now. SVG must move forward with the world and force Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan to pay tax. The EU is legally right and morally right.

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