American University of Barbados to Expand its Operations
The American University of Barbados (AUB) has purchased the BET building in Wildey, St. Michael, and will soon be expanding its operations here. Education Minister, Ronald Jones, briefing the media on the progress of the AUB here and their recent acquisition of the property said recently at the Elsie Payne Complex: “We thought that we would share good news…as you know the American University of Barbados is just five years old; [it] started in Wildey in one of the smaller spaces, and has gone from there to be located at Landsdown, Silver Sands.” He added: “We have walked with the AUB…. It was the first external medical institution to be established in Barbados, and so we have walked with them and they have in fact responded quite well, both in the expansion of numbers and in the quality of their programmes, and in the recruitment of both domestic and foreign medical tutors, professors and lecturers, and that has augured well for the interest being generated now across many spaces of the world.” He explained that with the most recent recognition of Barbados as a centre where American students could get federal loans and grants, any medical institution in Barbados would be able to benefit from those students coming to them. “So, that too was and is a signal honour. Cave Hill was a beneficiary of that as well, and AUB, once they are able to maintain this very high standard would also be a beneficiary of that. It is conferred upon a country and not just an individual or an entity. So, that is important,” Mr. Jones said. It was further noted that several students were now off island training in their clinicals and rotations, and very soon Barbados would have its first set of graduates from the AUB. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, reflected on the many hours spent trying to determine how Barbados could recapture and improve the position the island once had in the Caribbean as a place for regional education, educational tourism and a significant earner of foreign exchange and a creator of jobs. He expressed pleasure at the fact that the recent purchase was orchestrated in a timely fashion, and said: “This transaction is very important to us because of the significant growth that it represents…because it cements our relationship with a major country [India] in the world, … a country which is going to be much more significant in the scheme of world affairs.” Principal of the AUB, Meesam Ali Khan, in thanking the Ministers, said by investing in the newly acquired property, they were assuring Barbadians that AUB would be here for a long time. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Banknotes Amid Currency Meltdown
Venezuela is to issue larger denomination banknotes as soaring triple-digit inflation and a currency in freefall reduces the worth of the country’s largest existing bill to around two US cents on the black market. Six new banknotes ranging from 500 to 20,000 Bolivars will begin circulating on December 15, according to the central bank. At present, the largest-denominated bill is 100 Bolivars which is worth just a few US cents. Given that a two-litre soft drink can cost 25 times that much, shoppers are said to need backpacks just to carry the cash for their purchases. The new bills will have a similar design to the notes currently in circulation but will have different colours. Venezuela’s currency lost 67 percent of its value on the black market last month, falling to 4,587 bolivars per US dollar – the steepest monthly plunge ever, according to data by Dollar Today, which tracks the black market rate by monitoring transactions with the currency at foreign exchange houses across the border in Colombia. Runaway inflation, believed to be the highest in the world, is expected to surpass four digits next year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Caracas hasn’t published price data since 2015. Making matters worse, cash has become virtually unavailable, with ATM withdrawals capped at an extremely low amount and, on Friday, the nation’s credit card payment system unexpectedly stopped functioning for several hours. President Nicolas Maduro blamed the malfunction on a “cyberattack”, and ordered the Sebin intelligence service to raid the offices of CrediCard which processes payment for Visa and MasterCard. He’s also accused “mafias” in neighbouring Colombia of trying to carry out an “economic coup” against his socialist-run economy. “The right wing wants to impose on Venezuela a parallel exchange rate from an account in Miami, and from that account take the dollar to a disastrously crazy level,” Maduro said in a televised address announcing the rollout of the new bills. The South American socialist country has maintained strict currency controls since 2003 and currently has two legal exchange rates of 10 and 663 Bolivars per dollar used for priority imports. On the black market, where people and businesses turn when they can’t obtain government approval to purchase dollars at the legal rates, the Bolivar has collapsed by a factor of five over the past year. The currency meltdown comes amid what should’ve been a rare bout of good economic news for Venezuela after OPEC last week bowed to months of pressure from Maduro and other oil-dependent nations and decided to cut production levels for the first time since 2008. Crude prices rallied the most in five years as a result. Article compliments Caribbean360.com
OECD officials outline international tax initiatives, country-by-country reporting guidance released
OECD officials, during a December 5 webcast, discussed OECD international tax work, including just-released guidance implementing the OECD/G20 base erosion profit shifting (BEPS) plan country-by-country reporting standards, reports MNE TAX. The discussion also covered the G20’s tax agenda, the BEPS multilateral instrument, the status of OECD drafts on profit splits and attribution of profits to permanent establishments, and peer review of the BEPS minimum standards. Achim Pross, Head of the International Co-operation and Tax at the OECD, said that country-by-country reporting guidance, released today, consolidates into one document existing OECD guidance on transitional issues, released last June, and the updated guidance on country-by-country reporting, issued last December. One new aspect of the guidance is that it clarifies that jurisdictions may extend the due date for MNEs to notify tax administrations regarding which entity in the group is the reporting entity for purposes of country-by-country reporting, Pross said. Pross explained that a number of countries have required MNEs to identify the reporting entity by the end of financial period for which reporting is due, which creates practical difficulties in some instances where competent authority exchange agreements have not yet been put in place. Under the guidance, countries may adopt a different reporting date, for example, the date of filing the tax return or the country-by-country report, or otherwise offer transition relief, Pross said. The new guidance also announces that more countries will allow voluntary parent surrogate filing for fiscal periods beginning on or from January 1, 2016. Countries now permitting such filing are Hong Kong, Japan, Nigeria, and the United States. The guidance reports that Liechtenstein, the Russian Federation, and Switzerland, have issued draft legislation allowing for parent surrogate filing, which still must be approved by the countries’ legislatures. The OECD also today added a new section to its website that provides details on 48 countries’ implementation of the country-by-country reporting standards. The information includes the first fiscal year for which filing is required, whether local filing is required, and whether surrogate filing is allowed. Pross said that more countries will be added and the information will be regularly updated. Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration reported that, so far, 90 countries have joined the BEPS inclusive framework, which is a group of countries that have committed to adopt and promote the implementation of BEPS minimum standards and work on future international tax standards. Saint Amans said that finalization of draft transfer pricing guidance on profit splits and on attribution of profits to permanent establishments has been delayed because some members of the inclusive framework do not agree with some of the concepts in the drafts. “It may be the case that we will not rush, as we thought we would, to conclude these drafts,” Saint Amans said. He added that future work on these topics may not align with the drafts. Saint Amans also reported on discussions held in Berlin during a December 1 meeting of the G20 deputy finance ministers, the first such meeting under the new German presidency. Saint Amans said the German presidency is putting significant focus on issue of tax and digitization. The G20 has asked the OECD to prepare a report for the March 17–18 finance ministers meeting, Saint Amans said, on “what is at stake there, on the work on the task force on the digital economy, and maybe some ideas on the way forward.” Saint Amans said other international tax priorities of the German presidency include implementation of the BEPS minimum standards; tax certainty; tax and development, in particular the establishment of a “tax compact” in Africa;” and tax transparency, with emphasis on the need for countries to meet their obligations on exchange of information on request. Gita Kothari, Senior Legal Advisor at the OECD’s Legal Directorate, discussed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, otherwise known as the multilateral instrument (MLI), released by the OECD on November 23. The MLI is designed to allow countries to swiftly modify their bilateral tax treaties to incorporate the BEPS minimum standards and other BEPS output relating to tax treaties. Kothari said that the MLI will sit on top of and modify existing tax treaties. The MLI is very efficient, Kothari said, as it allows countries to go to their parliament only once to modify many tax treaties. Kothari reported the OECD is now helping countries prepare to sign the MLI. A June 5 signing ceremony is planned, which is expected to draw many countries. After that, countries must work on ratification of the MLI under domestic law, Kothari said. Kothari predicted that a processes similar to the MLI will be used in the future to amend tax treaties. The MLI “may be an important precedent for updating bilateral tax treaties in a synchronized way in order to address an issue where there is broad consensus that coordinated action is required,” Kothari said. Maikel Evers, Advisor at the OECD’s Centre of Tax Policy and Administration, said the OECD is developing a software tool to match MLI provisions selected by countries to amend their bilateral tax treaties. Saint Amans added that a priority for future work is to make certain that the MLI’s operation on tax treaties is clear and transparent to all. Pross said that peer review by the BEPS inclusive framework on countries’ compliance with minimum standards under Action 6 (treaty abuse) will commence after work on the multilateral instrument is complete. Peer review of country-by-country reporting implementation under Action 13 is expected to begin in 2017, he said. He said that there is ongoing assessment of countries’ compliance with BEPS standards on harmful tax practices. “We are in the process of reviewing patent boxes, IP regimes, preferential regimes and the transparency framework [regarding the exchange of tax rulings],” he said. In this regard, the OECD is working closely with the EU Code of Conduct Group, which is conducting a similar review of EU laws, Pross said. Pross said that peer review by the BEPS inclusive framework regarding compliance with BEPS minimum standards on the mutual agreement program (MAP) began today, with the launching of a questionnaire. The first countries to be reviewed are Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States, and Switzerland. Saint Amans called the MAP peer review work a “game changer” that will not only resolve double tax disputes, but prevent them. Saint Amans said that the publicity will put pressure on counties to improve their processes. OECD today also released on its website the MAP statistics of many countries for the 2015 reporting period. “Closing inventories are up by nearly 160 percent [over ten years], clearly indicating that there is a need to do something,” Pross said. Pross added that, for 2016 and beyond, MAP statistics will be published and reported pursuant to a new agreed framework, which will make the data more consistent and provide greater transparency. Article compliments IFC Review.