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Barbados surprised at EU blacklisting — PM

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart Monday described as “unfair and unwarranted”, the decision last year by the European Commission to blacklist a number of Caribbean countries, including his own, as uncooperative tax jurisdictions.

Addressing a ceremony marking the Europe Day 2016 and the 40th Anniversary of the European Delegation’s presence here, Stuart said Barbados was surprised at the backlisting.

“There are reports that in the wake of the so-called Panama Papers, the prospect of another list looms. I trust that this will not materialise and that the European Union has by now recognised that the financial services sector is a vital element of the economies of a number of Caribbean countries, touching their very existence,” Prime Minister Stuart said.

“Harm to that sector unleashes a sequel of negative economic and social impacts on our development efforts which cannot easily be repaired, and which undermine legitimate initiatives at alternative options for development to replace those of old.”

He said the European had aided the development of Barbados and the region through a number of measures.

He pointed out that the focus in the initial stages of the relationship was on sugar and then rum, but the attention was now directed at new areas, such as that of renewable energy.

He told the ceremony that Barbados aspires to become a green economy and a large part of this change would involve moving away from expensive fossil fuels.

Stuart said that under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Barbados benefits from a Euro 3.5 million (One Euro =US$1.29 cents) allocation which would focus on the energy sector and, more specifically, on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“These funds will surely help us to move to this new phase of Barbados’ existence and towards our stated goal of making Barbados an advanced green economy,” Prime Minister Stuart said, thanking the European Union for its valuable partnership in the area of disaster management.

He said the donated funds assisted recovery efforts in countries affected by natural disasters.

On the issue of terrorism, the Barbados leader noted that that some countries of the EU had experienced terrorist attacks and that Bridgetown stands in solidarity with the EU and its efforts to combat and eliminate this scourge which had invaded their region and threatened the security of all.

“Let me place on record an acknowledgement of the European Union’s unwavering commitment and substantial assistance in helping us in the region to address our own crime and security issues,” Stuart added.

Head of Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, said over the past four decades the EU had provided close to Euro 200 million in assistance to Barbados and just over three billion Euros regionally.

The European diplomat said that official development assistance could act as a catalyst to unlock loan finance for sustainable development, with the goal of promoting private investments.

“For this purpose, new instruments such as blending, debt and equity investments and other forms of innovative financing have been invented and are being used.

“In this context, let me also take this opportunity to announce that within the next half a year, an office of the European Investment Bank, with its large loan portfolio, will be opened here in Barbados to help facilitate some of these objectives,” he added.

Barfod pointed out that many human rights issues existed within the EU and the Caribbean and suggested that they should fight human rights matters together.

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