Minister of State for Finance, Sen. the Hon. James Smith, has announced that the Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Rowena Bethel, has been appointed to the United Nations’ **Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters**.
The group had functioned previously as the informal Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, but earlier this year the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council passed a resolution to rename the international tax body. A news release at the time said one of the functions of the tax group will be to examine how tax competition leads to countries neutralising each other’s incentives, reducing their overall revenue.
Within the Committee, representatives of national tax authorities will:
• review and update the UN double taxation convention model and the negotiation manual between developed and developing countries;
• enhance international cooperation between national tax authorities;
• identify emerging issues affecting international tax cooperation; and
• give recommendations on how to build capacity in developing countries.
The Committee held its first meeting in Geneva recently and reportedly established a Working Committee on Exchange of Information, with a mandate to look at proposed changes to the relevant exchange of information provision under the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between developed and developing countries; and to review the state of tax information exchange work carried out by other international organizations, including the work carried out by the OECD.
Mrs. Bethel also is The Bahamas representative on the OECD’s Global Taxation Forum, and the Minister points out that both fora will keep The Bahamas abreast of crucial developments in this area. He said that as a major international business centre, it is important that this nation maintains an awareness of global developments that may impact its services industry. *”The government is committed to sustainable growth in financial services through improving the competitive positioning of The Bahamas, and the refinement of the regulatory framework. We believe that external engagements are an important aspect of these enhancements – though we also believe that such engagements must be on a fair and even basis.”*
The Minister concluded that The Bahamas will continue to work towards expanding its knowledge base while at the same time, *”providing relevant input in the international decision-making process which affect the affairs of this country.”*
Rowena Bethel is involved in a number of multilateral and bilateral matters related to intellectual property, compliance and anti-money laundering within the financial services sector; taxation, related cross-border cooperation and tax information exchange arrangements; international trade dispute settlement and privatization. She is a Commissioner of the Compliance Commission of The Bahamas, serving as its administrative head.
Mrs. Bethel’s work at the Ministry of Finance has also included the development of a comprehensive long-range strategy for the Bahamian Digital Economy, and the relevant legislative and regulatory framework for e-commerce.