Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Spain cannot have it both ways on tax transparency agreements say PDP

Spain "cannot have it both ways" says Gibraltar's Progressive Democratic Party.

In a statement today, which reflect my views on this issue completely (not the first time I agree entirely with the PDP I will add), the PDP say Spain "cannot constantly prosecute an unjustifiable campaign aimed at tarnishing our (Gibraltar's) finance centre for not co-operating and then when Gibraltar signs an exchange of information agreement with the United States make a diplomatic protest to the US".

The PDP statement follows reports of a complaint by the Spanish Foreign Ministry to the United States over an agreement for the exchange of tax information which the US signed with Gibraltar at the G20 Summit, at the end of March.

The PDP statement today argues that the agreement with the US "followed the same format as those with the Channel Islands", and added:

"It is absolutely right that the Government should have signed the Agreement directly and without any presence of the United Kingdom chaperoning proceedings."

In their statement today, Keith Azopardi, the PDP leader explains that Gibraltar "is fiscally sovereign and has the power to enter into these Agreements".

"Indeed, the PDP would have objected if the UK had signed such an Agreement on Gibraltar’s behalf because it would have amounted to a clear erosion of our constitutional competences."

Mr Azopardi, who served as Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar and Minister for Trade and Industry until 2003, in the incumbent GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) Government, said this was "precisely the condition" that he mentioned to the US when they first raised the possibility of signing such an Agreement during his tenure as Minister responsible for Financial Services.

Mr Azopardi is urging the Government to now "move ahead and sign up to further Agreements "so that Gibraltar’s finance centre can be placed on the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 'white-list' and taken off the so-called ‘grey’ list, a list of offshore 'jurisdictions that have committed to internationally agreed tax standards' but that have not yet substantially implemented these agreements.

Concluding the PDP statement, Mr Azopardi says the Government "has wasted the last five years" and that it should now "accept realities":

"The Government has wasted the last five years when it was obvious to all as far back as 2003 that the global environment was changing and that it would be necessary to sign up to these Agreements.

The Channel Islands started to do so in 2002 and we have lost ground in this area because of the Government’s reluctance to accept realities.

While the PDP support the signing of this Agreement it is clearly insufficient and the Government now needs to move far more quickly to catch up with our competitors!"

Amen to that Keith... Well said! cool