(CARICOM Secretariat) Finance Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) reviewed a range of economic and financial issues at the Fifteenth Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.
The Council paid particular attention to the state of regional economies and addressed implementation issues relating to the Framework for Growth and Development which had been the focus of attention at the recent Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government. Ministers agreed to recommend to the Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government a process to carry the issues forward including the appointment of a technical committee consisting of representatives of Member States to assist the Council in monitoring the economic situation. The Council identified priority issues such as fiscal sustainability, resource mobilization and unemployment on which there should be focus. Heads of Government had assigned the Bureau the task of moving the issue of Growth and Development forward.
There was unanimous agreement that the level of integration and inter-relatedness among CARICOM economies warranted a regional solution to the current economic difficulties which have the potential to affect even those economies which have performed well.
Ministers approved the draft CARICOM Financial Services Agreement and the draft amendment to the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement for finalization and signature by Member States. The CARICOM Financial Services Agreement will establish a regional framework for the supervision and regulation of financial entities which operate cross-border in the regional economic space while the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement was amended to incorporate provisions for the application of the global standard for the exchange of tax information among CARICOM Tax Administrations.
The Council also reviewed the state of preparedness of Member States for accommodating the reporting procedures resulting from the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). While the Ministers understood the importance that the United States attached to the protection of its tax base, they stressed the serious implications of compliance by CARICOM States, given the highly integrated nature of the Region’s financial sector. Ministers emphasised the importance of continuing their co-ordinated approach to negotiations with the United States and agreed to meet in mid-September to review the work of the CARICOM Task Force on FATCA.
COFAP also agreed to appoint Dr Alvin Hilaire, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago as the next Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Barbados-based CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). The Fund was established to provide technical and financial assistance to countries, regions and sectors which are disadvantaged due to operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as well as positioning Member States to take advantage of the opportunities in the Market
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