Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said The Bahamas is pleased that the Lima Commitments are inclusive of tax information exchange, which previously placed small island states at a disadvantage.
Addressing the Plenary Session of the Eighth Summit of the Americas Saturday morning, Dr. Minnis said The Bahamas applauds the inclusion of a mandate to establish a hemispheric focus upon tax information exchange, “which has until now, been a rather one-sided, indeed lopsided conversation.”
“Too often as small states we are subject to norms developed without meaningful engagement from us, norms which may not be applied uniformly to all jurisdictions,” Dr. Minnis said.
“Accordingly, we are pleased that the Lima Commitments acknowledge the importance of technical assistance, to ensure states have the necessary support to implement regional and, international anticorruption obligations… and we look forward to a balanced dialogue, where we meet as equals on matters that are of importance to us all.”
According to the prime minister, unintended consequences that negatively impact small economies in the region need to be minimized, especially when devising regulatory mechanisms and setting regional or international standards.
“For many developing countries, including small island states in the Caribbean region for instance, the unintended consequence of loss of correspondent banking relationships, requires a collaborative solution as stated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in 2016.”
Madame Lagarde noted, “… All actors have a part to play: countries need to upgrade their regulatory frameworks; regulators in key financial centers need to clarify regulatory expectations and ensure consistent application over time; and global banks need to avoid knee-jerk reactions and find sensible ways to reduce their costs…”
“We must ensure that our efforts do not have as a backlash erosion of regional financial stability and inclusion,” he noted.
Dr. Minnis also lauded the prioritization of education in the Lima Commitments document, given the important role education can play in preventing corruption and bolstering democratic governance.
“These commitments establish a baseline which each country of the hemisphere should aim to achieve. The tenets are tools for us to hold each other accountable,” said Dr. Minnis.
“It is only through cooperation and collaboration that countries will be able to curtail the webs of corruption that often extend across borders, after involving transnational criminal activity in our interconnected world.”
Some 22 years ago, member states of the hemisphere adopted the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, the first international agreement of its kind in the world. The prime minister said The Bahamas firmly endorses the tenets of the Lima Commitments document.