David Burt: “Ridiculous, Arbitrary Action By EU”

June 23, 2015

Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said the Government will have the “full support” of the PLP as they “fight for our reputation overseas” following the “ridiculous, arbitrary action” of the European Commission placing Bermuda on a blacklist.

On Friday [June 19], Finance Minister Bob Richards said, “On Wednesday June 17th 2015, the European Commission [EC] published a list of 30 ‘uncooperative’ tax jurisdictions from around the world, including Bermuda.”

Pointing out that Bermuda has signed many tax information exchange agreements [TIEAs] with countries around the world and we have over 80 treaty partners, the Minister said the “list is baseless and does not survive even cursory scrutiny.”

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Mr Burt said, “Earlier today the Minister of Finance spoke about the troubling development from the European Union. Speaking about the placing of Bermuda, and I think 29 other countries, on some mysterious black list that they just happen to dream up over the last few weeks.

“Of course, I’d like to support his — and I would call it a strong statement,of condemnation — to this ridiculous, arbitrary action by the European Union. It’s something that we seem to continue to see, the changing of goal posts, the moving of goal posts, different criteria, different days, and all the rest. It’s just not helpful. It’s not good.

“What really needs to occur is that the countries who are attempting to change our laws need to focus and get their own houses in order,” the Shadow Finance Minister added.

“It’s amazing that Luxembourg was not on the list, which is an EU country, but Luxembourg is actually embroiled in quite a scandal in the European Union in so far as the government actively helping companies dodge their taxes. We don’t do that here. We have a tax system, which has been in place for a very long time. It is our tax system. It is different.

Audio excerpt of Mr Burt speaking in the House on Friday

“So for those persons, or those countries, to attempt to put that on us…is ridiculous, and so are the criteria, as the honourable Minister of Finance mentioned, some of the criteria to end up on a blacklist is the fact that you have no income tax. That’s it! That’s all that you need!

“Then someone can only infer that to get off a blacklist for some countries you have to introduce an income tax, it’s almost a way of saying this is what you want us to do.

“Well, I can tell you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I’m sure the honourable Minister of Finance when he gets up because I see him furiously scribbling notes on his Surface Pro 3, that he will support what we are saying on this side. That we will continue to stand up, that we will continue to defend our reputation against those who would wish to sully it for no reason and for no basis.

“Bermuda has done its work. We signed up with TIEAs, we have 80 of them, we have multiple TIEAs. We have 80 partners we have multi-lateral conventions, which as the Minister said, many of the European countries haven’t even signed up to! I mean, we are on the blacklist of countries that we have TIEAs with! How is that possible? How does that work?

“We have a agreement where we will give them whatever they want if they ask for it in a proper fashion, yet we are still on the blacklist. We’ve done our work.

“Although, as the honourable Shadow Attorney General said, he expressed his disappointment at the Minister of Finance, that with all his trips to Brussels he wasn’t able to prevent this from happening, wasn’t able to, with his fine relationship with the United Kingdom, which he is continuing to generate over this wonderful airport project, that no one in His or Her Majesty’s treasury…that no one in the United Kingdom government was able to alert him to the fact that this was coming.

“Although, we express our, I guess you could say, chagrin at that, he will continue to enjoy the full support of the Progressive Labour Party which he continues to fight for our reputation overseas.

“I will say this, and the honourable Minister of Finance will I’m sure chuckle, but I would say that’s the difference between us in opposition and the One Bermuda Alliance when they’re in opposition. We remember that there were times when we were going overseas, and it was not like we had a unified front.

“I will tell you this, when it comes to defending our bread and butter, we continue to support the work of the very capable civil servants and the very capable people who make sure that we are complying with all the rules and regulations that are required of us,” added Mr Burt.

Yesterday, Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO Ross Webber said the EU list was “inaccurate, misleading and damaging” and said the BDA welcomes a message of support and clarification from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] that depicts the blacklist as “unfortunate.”

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Comments (16)

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  1. jt says:

    This started out as a coherent statement and tailed into who knows what.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      It is great to see the PLP promising a unified front with this, but can he actually make a statement of support and still critize the government in the same statement barely a breath later. On one hand you have him offering PLP support, then on the other he is saying that the OBA should support the PLP in this outrage… is he oblivious as to who actually lead the charge on this. He then goes on to say the OBA wouldn’t take a stand against something like this if they were in opposition??? The difference between Minister Richards and Mr. Burt’s responding to this is that when Minister Richards responds, it is actually intelligible, continuous and makes sense; he actually has the ability to respond like a leader and statesman.

      • Regina says:

        Yea, he had me thinking he was actually coming to his senses and doing Bermuda proud for a change….and thennnnnnn, he went right back to his old self. Oh well, some people never change.

  2. SANDGROWNAN says:

    It is Burt after all, really, what did you expect?

  3. Mr AC 2017 says:

    “…………….Ridiculous, Arbitrary Action by Burt”

    MP, time for all 36 of you to do and not just say – form an Organisation of OFCs and LOBBY in Brussels

  4. Raymond Ray says:

    “Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said the Government will have the “full support” of the PLP as they “fight for our reputation overseas” following the “ridiculous, arbitrary action” of the European Commission placing Bermuda on a blacklist.”
    We should be seeing more co-operation from the Opposition if we’re to get out of this debt and bettering life for everyone as oppose to name calling, insinuations and accusations.
    I thank you Shadow Minister of Finance, David Burt and PLP associates…

    • Regina says:

      RayRay – Clearly you didn’t read the entire article.

  5. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Strikes me that this is something for the London office to take up? It seems that a process of education and information is urgently needed.

    • Terry says:

      Good point Mr. Deacon.

      The ball is in Michael Dunkley’s court and he does not need to make a “Net”.
      He needs an “Ace”.

      Grow some b@lls Mike.

      • Michael H. Dunkley J.P. says:

        Good Afternoon,
        The Deputy Premier/Minister of Finance is overseas now dealing with this matter. Through this process we have and will continue to work with the UK but the most important message comes from us as Bermudians. The Deputy Premier, with the support of our London office and other colleagues, has done a good job in the past with information and education and will continue to do so in the future. He will be back Thursday night and will provide a statment to the House on Friday.

        • Raymond Ray says:

          Thanks for the up-date Premier Michael Dunkley.
          @ Regins: “RayRay – Clearly you didn’t read the entire article.” I commented on what Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt had stated but yes, he’d changed direction soon after this statement: “Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said the Government will have the “full support” of the PLP as they “fight for our reputation overseas” following the “ridiculous, arbitrary action” of the European Commission placing Bermuda on a blacklist.”

  6. TravelingTreeFrog says:

    Most unfortunate.
    I do love though how in the same breath Burt manages to arbitrarily offer support and sling dirt. As if Richards knows everyone in the EU and could have been “alerted” or that all the “trips to Brussels” could have saved us… didn’t you just repeat that having no income tax alone landed countries on this list.

    Oh ok just checking.

    If you’re going to offer support, just offer the damn support. It’s truly ignorant to blame someone for something they had no control over.

  7. um um says:

    noooo PLP do not support the OBA IN ANYTHING please dont give in the struggle against the oppression

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    Whatever the OBA does it will be wrong. Won’t have towait llong before the criticism starts.

  9. Terry says:

    Photo ops are great.
    They all do it.

    But the cyber media is the way to go.

    Just another rallying cry to Burts followers that we care.

    Rum all around.

  10. Buzby says:

    Hey everybody!
    David Burt expressed an opinion! Let’s go see!