Bush creates tax treaty team

| 10/06/2009

(CNS): A new negotiating team has been established by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush to deal with matters relating to various tax information agreements (TIA) to get Cayman on the OECD’s ‘white list’. “We need to move forward expeditiously with these agreements to preserve our good reputation as a transparent jurisdiction which upholds high international standards of cooperation,” said Bush on Tuesday.

The requirement laid out by the OECD, as agreed at the G20 meeting in April, is that a jurisdiction should have a minimum of 12 bi-lateral tax agreements in order to be considered transparent enough to make the ‘white list’. Cayman currently has eight as well as a uni-lateral mechanism. The team created by Bush as the Minister of finance  has cabinet approval to negotiate the necessary extra four that will meet the OECD standard. This week Bermuda signed its 12th agreement and was immediately prommoted to the white list.

“The intent is to ensure that the Cayman Islands meets and exceeds the minimum number of tax cooperation arrangements to enable elevation of the Cayman Islands to the OECD/G20 ‘white list’,” Bush added.

The TIA Negotiation Team will continue negotiations, which Bush said were already at an advanced stage, and conclude for final approval by cabinet tax information agreements with various countries. “The TIA Negotiation Team will now move these negotiations forward to signing as well as to pursue additional TIAs with other countries.”

The pace of signing agreements will be affected by the procedures of the country with which Cayman is seeking agreements, but Bush said he was confident that the Cayman Islands would be off the OECD ‘grey list’ within the new few months.

He added that the Cayman Islands will be signing an agreement with the United Kingdom next week, which will put the number of agreements held by the Cayman Islands at nine. The delegation to Europe will be led by the leader of government business and Governor Stuart Jack.

The TIA team is lead by Chief Secretary George McCarthy and includes the Attorney General Sam Bulgin, Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, Senior Assistant Secretary Michelle Bahadur (Secretary), Managing Director, Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Cindy Scotland,  CIMA Deputy Managing Director  Langston Sibblies, CIFSA Chair Anthony Travers, and Paul Byles.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What are you talking about?! Double taxation treaties are between countries that both have comparable taxation which we do not.

    What are you talking about? If you care to look up a few things before posting you will see that Cayman will sign a double tax agreement with the UK next week – an agreement that was negotiated by the previous government . Further, take a look at the number of double tax agreements in place for other countries which do not have income tax such as those which our competitor Dubai has. You will also discover that the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey and others have entered into double tax agreements with OECD states. I have also heard that within the next week or two that there will be an announcement of the signing of 7 other double tax agreements between Cayman and other countries, all negotiated by the previous government. At least the outgoing government has left a blue print of what the new party team should do.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Clearly all that brilliant advice from Mr T about how government could instantly save Cayman by sending off signed tax information agreements to OECD countries in order to get onto the OECD white list was complete ****. So in my view was his reasoning that we should even consider signing away our futures to get onto that OECD list in the first place. Let us also not forget about that other nonsence that Mr. T was talking about before the election, about how Cayman was doomed if there were not 12 tax information agreements immediately. Seems like that was just political fear mongering nonsence designed and effective at scaring the public into distrusting the previous government. Well done Mr. T.

    I cannot see how it was the quality of advice that led to the "team" appointment.  Perhaps it was an appointment made for services to the Party.  There is an old saying "Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me"  Maybe MAC ought to consider that in relation to listening to anything from his "dream on team".

    Does anyone know if any of the people appointed by MAC have any actual experience negotiating tax treaties. My guess is no given that MAC has suddenly changed his tune and is saying that while a number of the treaties negotiated by the previous government will be signed in the next few weeks it will take months to see any results from this "dream on" team’s activities. This clearly signals a well thought out plan in which people with no experience and no results are brought in to replace people who have produced results. 

    What happened to the promises of fiscal responsibility from the UDP? How much are the "dream-on team" members from the private sector or the one about to be in the private sector being paid to swan around Europe running up expenses that we will have to pay?  My guess is that it is far too much given that they do not seem to have any actual experience of negotiating tax treaties or anything else that is relevant. Hopefully those contracts are open to discovery under Freedom of Information. I wonder if the Auditor General could look at whether the tax payers are getting value for money from any contracts that these insiders have? 

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    How many tables were reserved for CTO Ball by former MOT>>>>How much was planned for Honduras inaugural? Any idea? How much spent on overseas "meetings" with staff?  If the LOGB wants to have his wife travel with him at their own personal expense, who cares? At least it is his WIFE. Please le’t get on with the business of digging this country out of the financial morass that we now find ourselves in. There are folks going hungry out there.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Please le’t get on with the business of digging this country out of the financial morass that we now find ourselves in".

      I think that is the point. Recent activities do not point in that direction. The irony of this is the Mr. Bush was supposed to be one who listens to the business leaders and to the people and is focussed upon the economy supposedly in contrast to the PPM. Tell that to the sponsors of Pirates Week. His honeymoon may be shortlived. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Before election Travers was beating up Kurt and Alden about the progress they were making.  He said they should sign bi-lateral agreements between Cayman and the other countries to demonstrate our willingness to comply (I’m not quite sure why he thought this would be different than a unilateral agreement but anyway, I guess he knows best right).  Given the sense of urgency that Travers was suggesting why has Mac/UDP not signed the blank TIEAs and sent them off as Travers was suggesting we do; they’ve had lots of time since election.  Why??Not because Mac/UDP has been asleep at the wheel as the UDP like to say.  It’s because it’s not that easy.  Kurt and Alden were busting gut (together with I’m sure a team of civil servants) negotiating for us and Mac/UDP were trying to make the voters think that PPM was doing nothing and/or this was such a simple process.  If it was so simple, why would he need such a powerhouse negotiating team?!

    So, Kurt and Alden were negotiating not simply signing and giving away all Cayman’s hope.  Any agreements you see signed so quickly now (e.g. UK) were already negotiated by Kurt and Alden.  Let hope Mac doesn’t screw it up.  But look, you know why Mac has this dream team because just like the rest of us thought Mac/UDPcan’t do it .  He’s too hot headed to start wid.  and his favorite sayings  like ‘dog eat ya suppa’ not gonna help him much outside of Cayman.

    Everyone will soon see that everything Mac/UDP thought was so easy to fix is not so easy after all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How many people did Alden take with him on his agreement signing tour?

    I looked it up. Alden took only one person with him – a technical expert from the civil service. Someone who actually knew a lot about tax agreements. Alden did not take one friend or relative along. He did not need a huge entourage along. He went on a working trip not a partying trip. He spent 3 days and signed 7 agreements with many benefits for Caymanians. By that standard MAC better come back with at least 50 treaties with a huge amount of benefits for the number of people he is carrying with him at our expense and the amount of time he is away.  But he already tell us he bringing us nothing but the bill.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Chuckie took an entire airplane full of his supporters when they inaugurated the Cayman Airways Washington flight and on top of that government also paid for a weekend at a luxury hotel for everybody.  How many people did Alden take with him on his agreement signing tour? You are asking why Mac takes his wife?  My gosh, such sour grapes from these PPM people.  For your information, I seriously doubt Mr. Bush cannot affort to carry his wife anywhere, especially since he has to spend so much time away from home due to his responsibilities.  GET A LIFE!

    • Anonymous says:

      "Chuckie took an entire airplane full of his supporters"

      You are missing the point. The UDP campaigned on a platform of fiscal prudence saying that the PPM was overspending. It is therefore not good enough to say well they did it too. What this does is expose the fact that the UDP was merely politicking and taking Caymanians for fools. Clearly they are right to do so in some cases.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember when McKeeva took a whole plane load of UDP supporters to New York and put them up in the Waldorf Astoria, was it? Hmmm!

  7. Anonymous says:

     Can we assume that for what ever reason Travers isnt part of the negotiating team and therefore wont be attending Europe / US meetings 

     

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    Grey list, purple list who cares. What is really important is the what is on the "best long term interest of the Caymanian people" list. That is how progress should be measured. 

    Are there really people out there so simple minded that they think that Cayman should be determining which government is working best for Cayman in terms of trying to go from one list manufactured by people from the OECD who are trying to destroy us, to another list made up by those same people? Why would anyone assume that pleasing an organisation that is trying to destroy us should be our elected representatives role?  Would it not be better to look at what benefits we are getting from cooperation in comparison with our competitors and expanding our cooperation in order to secure more benefits?

    If you read the regional press you see things like the Barbados government announcing new financial services opportunities as a result of their new tax treaties with OECD states as well as other states in the region and on the far side of the world. You don’t see their governments issuing press releases about how they are working hard to make some bureaucrat from the OECD happy. If you look at the press from Hong Kong and Singapore you see those governments making announcements about new treaties and trade agreements, not about grovelling to the OECD. I don’t get why it is that our government is telling us that they are trying to move us to a white list that indicates that the OECD is winning and we are losing? Where did they get the idea that we don’t care if they make our jobs move to some other country and give away our childrens futures?

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s delegation is being led by the Governor as well as MAC. What foolishness is that or did they charter a whole plane so that there was no addition to our expenses for yet another person who does not have Cayman’s interests at heart? This is starting to sound like some bad joke at our expense – literally. Next we will be hearing that Bridger has been added to this negotiating team.

    The government is talking about being broke, and about borrowing to pay civil servants but they take all these people who have no experience in negotiating tax treaties on a lark to Europe at our expense and they tell us that they will not be bringing back anything to benefit the people of these Islands. If they do not know how to negotiate benefits for Cayman in the big league then they are worse than useless and no one should be spending a dime sending them anywhere except to do a job that they might know about. They must think we all idiots. 

    Who is it that tells them that it is OK to sign away the future of these islands to make a few already rich people a bit richer at our expense? Who tells them that we can be fooled into thinking that getting nothing is something we should all be grateful for?

    Whoever it is that this government is listening to it is not the Cayman people. We want good secure financial services jobs for the long term. We want the opportunity to advance in our jobs. We have mortgages. It sounds like the people who are advising government got many houses each and no mortgages. They should pay for their own trips to party in Europe.

    We did not elect this government to go partying at our expense when we are having a hard time making ends meet.

     

  10. Anonymous says:

    Real benefits are available. Mr. Travers noted in the earlier story on Bermuda making the white list that full double taxation agreements with OECD states are possible for Cayman. His evidence for this is that Cayman will be signing a full double tax agreement with the UK next week which was apparently negotiated priorto existence of this new friends andfamily negotiating team. So Cayman clearly has the necessary leverage, or at least used to. Bermuda never got a full tax treaty with the UK so why exactly are we trying to copy them getting nothing? Who is giving this stupid advice?

    Some people are saying that MAC no longer has the stomach for fighting Cayman’s corner and getting us real benefits the way he did with the EU. As a Caymanian who recently came back from university and is looking forward to a career in the financial services sector I hope that is not true.  

    And another thing, I was reading in the papers about the Turks & Caicos leader taking his friends and family on expensive European holidays and now look at what is happening there. I hope that we are not going to be reading about the same thing in relation to Cayman over the coming months.    

    • Anonymous says:

      "Real benefits are available. Mr. Travers noted in the earlier story on Bermuda making the white list that full double taxation agreements with OECD states are possible for Cayman".

      What are you talking about?!Double taxation treaties are between countries that both have comparable taxation which we do not. Even bilateral tax information exchange agreements make no sense since Cayman will not be asking the other country for any such information. What is the benefit in this to Cayman?! There is no leverage for the reason I stated earlier.    

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jetting around Europe with family and friends while giving away our future is not what I voted for. As a UDP supporter (at least up to now) I am also very angry that the government has been working hard to set our people’s expectations so low in relation to cooperation with OECD states. If they are saying that they don’t know how to produce any tangible benefits for Cayman then get out of the way and let somebody else do it. 

    It is nonsense that the OECD has a model tax agreement and that Cayman has no leverage. The OECD also has a model tax treaty that has real benefits for countries that stand up to them like our competitors Barbados and Singapore have done. MAC said in the past that he would like Cayman to develop like Singapore has. That won’t happen unless Cayman gets treaties like Singapore has. Even the Isle of Man has been getting lots of beneftis. It is only the doomed "we will sign anything" countries that get stuck with only tax information agreements and no future. Where do the current advisors to our government get off with this nonsense about having to accept that we are doomed.

    If this friends and family "team" doesn’t have the balls or whit to produce something with real benefits then they should stop spending our money partying in Europe and get back here and fix problems that they might possibly know something about. Have any on this team ever actually negotiated any tax agreements with anybody or are they just good people to hang out with at our expense?

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      "It is nonsense that the OECD has a model tax agreement and that Cayman has no leverage’.

      It is not nonsense. The UDP created the sense of panic that they are now caught on the horns of. We must get off the grey list at all costs as soon as possible! Repeal the Confidentiality Law. Race around signing agreements! You should be signing agreements with more important jurisdictions that the Faroe Islands. The OECD knows that the Govt is desparate. Desparation=no leverage.    

    • Anonymous says:

       

      Jetting Around Europe……

      Why don’t you ask Alden if this team is capable of getting positive results. After all we know he DID MANAGE to get us on the gray list.

      • Anonymous says:

        "Jetting Around Europe……

        Why don’t you ask Alden if this team is capable of getting positive results. After all we know he DID MANAGE to get us on the gray list".

        As I recall Alden was a part of the team that helped negotiate us off the blacklist in 2000. 

        ALL UK Overseas territories were on the grey list so obviously it does not reflect the failure of one particular politician in one particular territory. But if you want to allocate blame locally then the UDP govt. (2001-2005) must share in that blame as they did not negotiate even one Agreement even though we had committed to the OECD to do so by 2005.  

        The team is only finishing what Alden started. It just sounds more grandiose this time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Regarding the question why is the wife of the LOGB on this trip.  Why not?

       

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why is the wife of the LOGB onthis trip?

  13. Thankful says:

    Personally, I appreciate this team that is pursuing these matters and the only other person I think would have added depth and strength to this dynamic team is Ms. Deborah Drummond…she is a powerhouse of insight and knowledge.

    Otherwise well done to this decision Mr Bush.

    pro-caymanian to the bone

  14. Anonymous says:

    The intent is to sign whatever the OECD says? 

    Where is the negotiation in that and why do we need a negotiating team to do that. It sounds like a collosal waste of tax payer money. There are less expensive ways to destroy our financial services sector.

    Surely they could send one person or just give away our futures by fax and save the travel expenses. Like someone wrote yesterday, The Pen Carrying Relay Team should travel Europe at someone else’s expense. I don’t care who they are related to or friendly wth, or who donated money.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with the comments so far. The OECD has a model Tax Information Exchange Agreement which it insists all TIEAs must follow and Cayman has no leverage. Accordingly, there is nothing to negotiate. This is just grandiosity on the part of the new Govt.  

  15. Anonymous says:

    Signing away our future is not a good strategy. Clearly the strategy of the OECD is to destroy or damage the competitiveness of financial centres which are not within OECD states. Cayman would seem to be at the top of their list for destruction. What is the government’s long term strategy to deal with the OECD? Or should I first ask, is there one because so far there is no evidence of one?

    There are complex issues involved and it is early days yet, but at the moment and from pre-election days, the government has said nothing other than it will do whatever the OECD demands. It is easy to see why CIFSA is advising government to sign anything to keep the OECD happy as for those interested only in the short term, this will allow a few more bonus cheques before they turn off the lights and leave. For the rest of us, allowing senior partners in CIFSA members to earn profits in the short term does not seem like a sufficient plan for our futures. Again, given that the OECD is out to destroy us, how is an undignified rush to comply with the OECD going to protect the long term future for our financial services sector? 
     
    Doing whatever the OECD says does not sound like a very smart strategy if the object is to preserve the future for all of Cayman rather than the short term profits of a few. Is the new “negotiation team” advising that senior partners in CIFSA firms should be allowed to grab what they can in the short term with no thought for those of us just starting our careers? Who is representing the interests of young Caymanians who want there to be a financial services sector for our futures.
     
    I also wonder if anyone has actually considered that by publicizing the desperation of our government to do whatever the OECD says, we are encouraging the OECD to accelerate their plan for our elimination. No doubt the 12 agreements will soon become 25 as even Mr Travers acknowledges that the OECD will move the goal posts as they lead us to destruction. Are we trying to signal to them that they should impose on us whatever else they want as soon as possible as we have a government that is only interested in the profits of a few and will do whatever the OECD says? Are we trying to say to them that we are desperate to be destroyed before Bermuda is? Who thinks up these negotiating strategies anyway?