Public Servants Undergo Training On ESW
Trade facilitation within Barbados is expected to be transformed with the implementation of the Electronic Single Window (ESW). That was the message of Deputy Project Coordinator of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme (BCP), Delano Scantlebury, to nearly 25 participants in the two-day ESW’s Train-the-Trainer Session for some government agencies. The training ended today and participants included employees of Plant Quarantine, Veterinary Services, Food Safety and the Department of Commerce. Mr. Scantlebury told the participants that their continued partnership was critical to ensuring the successful implementation of “this truly transformational project”. Reminding the participants that the ESW belonged to them and they must therefore take the knowledge back to their work colleagues, he urged them to play their part in Barbados’ trade facilitation renaissance which would benefit all. He continued: “Government’s overall plan is to address competitiveness matters in Barbados. The ESW facility is expected by all stakeholders to profoundly transform the nature of private/public sector relations and interface, and should therefore be seen fundamentally as a tool for promoting good e-governance in the country. “However, the most immediate and direct benefits of the facility will accrue to traders, who stand to gain significantly from the anticipated improvements within the trade in goods supply chain.” An electronic single window is an environment that facilitates the electronic submission of standardised international trade and transport-related documents to a single point. The Barbados Electronic Single Window is being implemented by A-T Solutions, at a cost of US$4.7 million. A-T Solutions is a US-based firm owned by the PAE conglomerate. Giving the background to the ESW, he said a loan was signed in 2010 between the Inter-American Development Bank and Government to jointly finance the implementation of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme. Its cost is US$11.8 million, of which, the IDB is providing loan funds of up to US$10.0 million and Government US$1.8 million. Mr. Scantlebury explained that the objective of the BCP was to improve the island’s competitiveness by way of addressing key bottlenecks affecting the efficient movement of goods in Barbados, and by supporting other trade and investment promotion activities, with a view of promoting export development and increasing private investment. Article compliments BGIS.
US cautions Caribbean countries offering economic citizenship
The United States Government has cautioned Caribbean countries offering a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) to be extra cautious about who they give their passports to, and ensure that recipients have no terrorist or crime links. It gave the advice, in a statement issued by the US Embassy in Barbados yesterday, even as it made it that it was not advising regional countries on whether or not they should offer economic citizenship. Under the CIP offered by countries like Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, foreign nationals are granted citizenship in exchange for a substantial investment in the country. “The United States does not approve or disapprove individual aspects of citizenship by investment programmes,” the US statement said. “The United States strongly believes that all countries have an inherent responsibility to their citizens and the international community to review fully all applicants who seek a nation’s citizenship.” “While the United States Government is willing to consult with governments on their citizenship investment programmes, the ultimate decisions to offer and how to operate such a programme, including the issuance of citizenship and related identifying documents, such as passports to applicants, lie with each individual government and not with the United States.” But, the statement added, the US Government encourages and expects governments to be confident, beyond a reasonable doubt, that applicants are bona fide and their identities have been fully validated, and they have no ties to transnational criminal or terrorist organizations, before handing over citizenship. The US Embassy did not identify any specific country in its statement. However, there has been concern in Antigua and Barbuda about the government’s recent decision to remove Iraq from the list of countries whose nationals are barred from obtaining citizenship under the twin-island nation’s CIP. The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) is strongly against it. Political leader Harold Lovell said late last month that given the entrenchment of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle Eastern country, that move and the decision by the Gaston Browne administration to establish a presence in Iraq, expose Antigua & Barbuda to danger and compromise the integrity of the country’s passport. Last November, the St. Kitts and Nevis Government announced an immediate suspension of the processing of new CBI applications from citizens and residents of Syria. The announcement came less than two weeks after ISIS carried out attacks in Paris, and also followed the arrest of Syrian nationals with fake passports in Honduras and St. Maarten, although the government did not publicly identify those developments as contributing to its decision. Article compliments Caribbean360.com
US court dismisses FATCA challenges
A US district court in Ohio dismissed a challenge by US Sen. Rand Paul and several other plaintiffs, reports CGMA Magazine. The challenge sought declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) entered into under FATCA, and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (called FBAR) administered by the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The court held the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue (Crawford, No. 3:15-CV-00250 (S.D. Ohio 4/26/16)). The plaintiffs filed suit against the Treasury Department, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and FinCEN. They brought eight claims before the court. The first was a challenge to the validity of the IGAs with Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Israel, and Switzerland. The second claim addressed the information-reporting provisions imposed on foreign financial institutions (FFIs). The plaintiffs’ third claim challenged the law’s heightened reporting requirements for foreign bank accounts. The fourth and fifth claims challenged FATCA’s 30 per cent tax on payments to FFIs from US sources when those FFIs choose not to report to the IRS about the bank accounts of their US customers and the 30 per cent tax imposed on recalcitrant account holders who exercise their rights not to identify themselves as US citizens or waive privacy protections afforded their accounts by foreign law. The sixth claim challenged the penalty for “willful” failures to file an FBAR, which can be as much as the greater of US$100,000 or 50 per cent of the value of the unreported account. Finally, the seventh and eighth claims argued the information-reporting requirements of FATCA and the IGAs are unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. Paul, who sued in his official capacity as a US senator, and whose participation in the lawsuit brought increased attention to the proceedings, was the first plaintiff to have his claim dismissed for lack of standing. He had argued, among other things, that the failure to bring the IGAs before the US Congress to be voted upon denied him the right to advise and consent to executive action. The court held that this claim of injury was not concrete enough to confer standing, and the court noted that Paul had an adequate, nonjudicial remedy of enacting legislation to repeal the laws he objected to. Amongst the other plaintiffs was Mark Crawford, who objected to the law’s effect on him because his brokerage firm did business with a bank that was refusing to take US citizens as clients. He also objected to disclosing the financial details of his accounts to the US government, and he feared the excessive fines imposed for willful failure to file an FBAR. All of these claims were dismissed by the court. The first was dismissed because the action of a third party (the foreign bank) that is not part of the suit is not grounds for standing, the court said. Second, Crawford’s discomfort with the information-reporting requirements does not establish the concrete, particular harm required for standing. And third, Crawford did not allege that he had failed to file any required FBAR or that the penalty had been assessed against him; thus, he had not alleged a harm that would confer standing. The other plaintiffs were US citizens and former US citizens currently living in foreign countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Switzerland. They either objected to disclosing information to the US government or alleged harm because they could not open accounts in the foreign jurisdictions in which they lived. As in Mark Crawford’s case, the court held that all of these plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed to establish the concrete, particular harm that is a prerequisite to standing. As a result, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. Article compliments IFC Review.