Promoting Dialogue and Consensus

As a result of the Barbados January 8-9 meeting between policy makers from Commonwealth and OECD countries on the subject of global co-operation on harmful tax practices, agreement was achieved for a joint Working Group, to move forward the dialogue initiated during the two days of consultations. That dialogue focussed on the purpose and implications of the OECD’s initiative on harmful tax practices, and attempted to achieve a common stand on three principles; namely transparency, non-discrimination and effective exchange of information on tax matters.

The Working Group brings together representatives from Commonwealth and OECD Countries, and is meeting for the first time in London, starting today. The January 26-28 meeting is being held at the Commonwealth Secretariat at Pall Mall, and is being chaired by the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados and by Mr. Tony Hinton, Australia’s Ambassador to the OECD.

A News Release from the OECD, whose Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs (DAF) is co-organising the meeting with the Commonwealth Secretariat, announced hopes that the weekend’s meeting will build on the achievements of the Barbados conference. That Forum provided the opportunity for a number of jurisdictions outside the OECD’s membership to address concerns regarding the process by which the project (harmful taxation initiative) had been taken forward. It is hoped that the end results of the Working Group deliberations will be a mutual decision on the political process to move basic agreement on the three principles into commitments, and agreement on a timetable for implementation by the end of 2005. Offshore jurisdictions have indicated that any such commitments relating to the so-called wide-ranging reform of fiscal systems should apply to OECD member nations as well.

Members of the joint Working Group include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, France, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, the Netherlands, Vanuatu and the United Kingdom.