ST JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda: Antigua and Barbuda is set to receive further technical and financial assistance from the European Union following high level talks in Brussels by a team from St John’s.
National Authorizing Officer for the European Development Fund, Ambassador Clarence Henry, just back from a series of talks with the European Commission services, said that the talks focused primarily on possible areas of engagement, cooperation and the acquisition of assistance to further strengthen the capacity of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC).
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation also included Althea Crick, Chairman of the FSRC and Board Member, Donna Chaia.
Henry said that throughout the talks his team reiterated that Antigua and Barbuda is committed to the principles of transparency and recognizes its obligations under international law and will continue to comply with commitments under the tax information exchange agreements concluded on the basis of OECD internationally-agreed standards.
The mission followed negotiations leading to the conclusion of the 10th European Development Fund’s Country Support between the European Commission and Antigua and Barbuda; the impact of the Allen Stanford debacle and the global financial and economic crisis on the economy; increasing pressure of the international community to seek renewed commitment from developing countries with perceived tax havens to honour obligations and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer’s request for technical assistance at the CARIFORUM-European Commission dialogue on Regional Cooperation and Integration in Antigua on July 18, 2009.
Describing the Mission as “very successful”, Henry said the Commission expressed commitment to increasing the 10th EDF allocation of €3.4 million, the dispatch of technical experts to assist the FSRC, and support for the convening of an international meeting in Antigua in 2010 on financial services attracting representatives from EU member states, other donor agencies and CARIFORUM member states.
Head of the EC Directorate for Development, John Caloghirou, described the mission as “a breakthrough trip” having “greatly changed perceptions about Antigua and Barbuda” and should be regarded as an “investment that will later bring benefits”.
Similarly, Philip Kermode, Head of the Directorate General for Taxation and Custom Union, wrote confirming the commitment of technical assistance to “help Antigua and Barbuda to implement the principles of good governance in the tax area”.
According to Kermode, the “Directorate General Development, Directorate General EuropeAid and EC delegation are currently working on how the practical aspects of such technical assistance could be provided”.
Meanwhile, during the recent Organization of Eastern Caribbean States 50th meeting of the Authority in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda updated and received the support of the sub-region on the engagement with the EC, and also disclosed Europe’s willingness to commence similar dialogue with the other OECS Member States.