Ministerial Statement by the Premier and Minister of Finance, The Hon. David Burt, JP, MP
Thank you, Mr Speaker:
Mr Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning to inform this Honourable House that following the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting on Tuesday 5th December in Brussels, Finance Ministers of European Member States reaffirmed Bermuda's status as a cooperative tax jurisdiction.
Mr Speaker, You will recall that in June of this year Bermuda received a Questionnaire Letter from the General Secretariat of the Code of Conduct Group of the Council of the European Union along with 90 other jurisdictions. The Bermuda response to that letter, together with our strong and effective direct interventions in Brussels with experts within the Code of Conduct Group and at a political level led to Bermuda being reaffirmed as a cooperative jurisdiction. Our efforts resulted in Bermuda committing to further enhance our regime of tax transparency.
Mr. Speaker, As I have said time and time again, Bermuda is not a place to hide money.
We demonstrate our commitment to transparency and fairness through our participation in the Common Reporting Standard and Country by Country automatic reporting regimes and by our membership in the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion & Profit Shifting. Any legitimate tax authority can request and receive information from Bermuda under 114 tax-transparency relationships pursuant to the OECD multilateral tax treaty.
Mr Speaker, Bermuda is a strong partner of the European Union. Over the past decade Bermuda has covered $25 billion of EU catastrophe insurance claims, including $500 million in coverage for the Costa Concordia accident as well as regular coverage for natural disasters such as the 2013 floods in Germany. Brussels recognises Bermuda as a soundly regulated insurance market, so much so that Bermuda has achieved compliance with Solvency II, thereby aligning Bermuda with EU standards. It is important to note that only two other jurisdictions, Switzerland and Japan, have achieved this level of equivalency.
Mr Speaker, Notwithstanding our sound regulatory environment and fair and transparent tax regime, Bermuda remains a target of some who seek to pursue a political agenda pushed through by certain international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on global tax reform that seeks to apply standards to Bermuda and other offshore jurisdictions that are not applied to EU, OECD and G20 jurisdictions. Much of this unfair effort is based on inaccurate and misleading representations and a wilful lack of understanding of the efficient functioning of the global economy.
Mr Speaker, Last week, following my meetings in London, I had the pleasure of speaking and meeting with Ministry of Finance officials from France and Germany. Those officials support Bermuda's efforts and indicated that we were on the right track with our leadership in the area of global tax transparency. They suggested that Bermuda could serve as an example for other jurisdictions, and it is our intention to do so.
Mr Speaker, Bermuda plays its part in the global effort for greater transparency in tax regimes. We will ensure that Bermuda fulfils the commitments we have made to the European Union Code of Conduct Group to further enhance our transparency regime, and will continue to offer our support to the EU and OECD in an effort to make their standards globally applicable across varying tax regimes.
However, we will continue to aggressively fight any effort to place us in a disadvantaged position through unfair treatment based on inaccurate information, often promoted by NGOs and their supporters, designed to serve their own political ends. To this end we must continue our dialogue in Brussels and in other European capitals with senior Government and political influencers to protect Bermuda's reputation and to ensure continued prosperity for Bermuda and Bermudians.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.