November 22, 2019

Cayman Islands: JMC meetings continue in London

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LONDON – On Wednesday Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Financial Services and Home Affairs Hon. Tara Rivers and the Cayman delegation attended the second day of the Joint Ministerial Council meeting at Lancaster House in London.

In the morning session the Rt. Hon. Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, led the discussion on tax transparency and beneficial ownership.

A highlight from the session was United Kingdom officials acknowledging that the process to determine non-cooperative jurisdictions has been challenging for the territories involved. It was again confirmed that the has been and continues to work on behalf of the British Overseas Territories to ensure that the EU process is fair and balanced.

Several leaders spoke about the EU process with Premier McLaughlin noting that the process was indeed challenging but the Cayman Islands Government had worked diligently to provide EU officials with information to assist in their deliberations. He thanked the UK for the work being done to assist OTs and again pressed them to continue to lobby the EU on behalf of Cayman and the OTs.

It was also noted by UK Government officials that the UK could assist the territories in educating the public about how far the Overseas Territories have come in the fight against financial crimes, tax evasion and the issue of beneficial ownership. UK officials also acknowledged that it needs to help educate the public that overseas financial centres play an important role in facilitating global finance. However, it was also noted that OTs with financial services businesses also needed to tell their story and help educate people and change perceptions to help shift attitudes.

Territories provided updates on the progress made in implementing commitments made last year in the Exchange of Notes on Beneficial Ownership. ‘Minister Rivers provided an update on the work that has been done to implement those commitments. Minister Rivers also indicated that Cayman had submitted comments which highlighted a few concerns for further discussion as part of the planned 6 month review.’

Premier McLaughlin said Cayman and other OTs have been requesting that the UK Government extend the UN Convention against Corruption to the OTs for several years, which has presented a problem when the Cayman Islands is under review. UK officials agreed to see what could be done.

also updated the OT leaders and their delegations about the Commonwealth Heads of Government to be held in April 2018. said the UK intends to ensure that Overseas Territories have an opportunity to be more involved in these meetings going forward. The Overseas Territories already participated in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as well as in the Commonwealth Games, and so it is right that they have the opportunity to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings as well, he said.

The remainder of the morning session included conversations about health, including the UK assisting OTs to improve their health systems. Steve Brine, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health led the session. Topics included an update on the work done by the UK’s Department of Health as well as collaboration between the UK and the OTs on mental health and obesity.

Lord Ahmad led the session on Child Safeguarding, and Claire Perry, Minister for Climate Change, led the session on the UN Framework on Climate Change. It was noted that the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean highlighted that small islands like the British OTs are badly impacted by rising temperatures. It was highlighted that the UK should ensure that OTs had the ability to lend their voice directly in debates about setting climate change standards.

The afternoon session included an update by Robin Walker, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department for Exiting the EU, on the Brexit negotiation. The future of the relations hip between OTs and the EU was discussed with several OT leaders again noting concerns about losing EU financing and grant options as well as maintaining trade to EU countries. OT leaders pressed UK officials to ensure that they are not disenfranchised once the UK leaves the EU.

END

IMAGE: Cayman Premier with leaders

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