At the twenty third meeting of Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) CARICOM Foreign Ministers expressed concern over the constant shifting of goal posts, the continued lack of prior consultation or notification and the unwillingness to take into account the efforts at compliance made by CARICOM Member States.
The measure which placed member states Barbados, The Bahamas and Jamaica on the EU blacklist of countries that pose financial risks to the bloc, was viewed as detrimental to the economies of the affected states which are already in recession.
The Community called on the EU to take into consideration the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economic wellbeing of the small states of CARICOM in their policy-making.
The Foreign Ministers took note of the long-term implications of COVID-19 for the economies of Small Island Developing and Low-Lying States and the context in which these implications should be addressed through important UN initiatives such as the SAMOA Pathway, Financing for Development and the realisation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).
They commended the attention being paid by the UN Secretary General and UN agencies such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to the issues of indebtedness and access to concessional financing of SIDS and Middle Income Countries which have become obstacles to the development of these countries as well as to their post-pandemic recovery, a situation exacerbated by the economic and financial ravages of the pandemic.
Jamaica and the Bahamas, Barbados and Panama are among twelve countries which the European Commission has added to its list of states that pose financial risks to the European Union (EU) bloc because of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing shortfalls.
European Commission’s draft report states that countries on that list pose significant threats to the EU’s financial system and, under EU law, banks and other financial and tax firms are obliged to scrutinise more closely their clients who have dealings with countries on the list.
In February, Jamaica was reportedly among seven countries placed on a grey list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for what the entity described as weak links among some companies to money laundering.
Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke noted that the FATF found substantial deficiencies in Jamaica's Anti-Money Laundering/ Combatting the Financing of Terrorism framework. These deficiencies were found in assessments done in 2005 and again in 2015, through mutual evaluation exercises.
The finance minister assured that there is an action plan to address the deficiencies, including the “finalisation of all the businesses and professions, such as the real estate, legal, accounting, financial, the jewellery (stores), the remittance, the pawn-broking, the car dealerships, and the non-profit sector...”
He said the action plan will need broad-based support in order to be effective. Dr Clarke pointed out that despite progress over the years, Jamaica has long had deficiencies in its anti-money laundering framework.
- Countries: CARICOM
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