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Bermuda: Our Star is Shining on the International Stage

The OECD is here and it's our time to shine. They're here because of our exemplary record and status as a standard for others to follow.

Yesterday, Premier Paula Cox welcomed delegates from around the world to our shores. The Premier highlighted the importance of the meeting in her opening remarks:

This 2011 OECD Global Forum Meeting is pivotal.

In a world that has become increasingly complex and competitive it is important to have some constants as benchmarks.

The OECD Global Forum is one such constant. It sets standards and rules of engagement.

Consistency
Continuity
Commitment as to an agreed way forward.

The important question we must ask ourselves is what type of world do we want, what kind of growth do we want and what do we need to do to provide the proper environment for increased opportunities for our people in our countries.

Those are the common ideals and principles as active participants in the OECD Global Forum that we must not lose sight of.

The Premier went on to discuss Bermuda's unique and respected role in the organization. Premier Cox:

The fact that we are here and that Bermuda is the host and a Vice Chair of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes tells us something important about the shifting geo-political landscape.

Size does not matter.

Influence is not limited to those who have large economies, extensive land mass and significant resources.

This Global Forum can serve as a powerful tool for democratic and inclusive change.

This is a moment of opportunity for the members of the OECD Global Forum.

We must seize the opportunity and rise to the challenge.

By shifting power to the right levels, we will increase democratic accountability and transparency and foster the environment for a level playing field.

She went on to detail the important work and agreements being discussed at the Global Forum this week. She concluded by sharing with the delegates the Bermuda story - holding us up as an example for others in the international community to follow. Premier Cox:

Allow me to now share what Bermuda has done to implement the Standard. We take our role as a responsible and trusted global citizen seriously. In endorsing the internationally agreed Standard in the year 2000, Bermuda affirmed its long-standing position it does not adopt or promote measures that have been characterized as harmful, such as legislating bank secrecy or embedding in legislation similar measures that prevent disclosure of information.

Moreover, the commitment reinforces Bermuda’ s position in the international marketplace that it supports real businesses offering services worldwide and is not a jurisdiction whose growth is based on, nor one that will tolerate, the use of Bermuda to breach the civil or criminal tax law of any country.

Drawing on its long-standing experience administering the US-Bermuda Tax Convention 1986, Bermuda acted as a member of the Global Forum Working Group on Effective Exchange of Information in the development of a model TIEA, adopted in 2002. In fact, it was my father who must share the spotlight today because the late Honourable C. Eugene Cox was the Minister of Finance who made the policy decision to make the commitment to the OECD tax initiative in 2000 and attended Global Forum meetings in Paris.

Bermuda continues to negotiate and conclude TIEAs and other Agreements relating to taxation that provide for the exchange of information on tax matters to the OECD standard, as set out in Article 26 of the Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital. Later this morning Bermuda will initial a TIEA with Kenya becoming to first country to reach such an agreement with Kenya.

Bermuda has participated in the peer review process by both contributing assessors, trainers, and being in the first round of those who were peer-reviewed. At our last meeting, the Global Forum reviewed and ratified Bermuda’s Phase 1 Peer Review Report, with the determinations that Bermuda meets all elements, with some recommendations.

I am pleased to today report that Bermuda has responded. On May 20th, I tabled the Specified Business Legislation Amendment Act 2011 that will address these recommendations. I have asked our Legislature to work to pass this Bill through both our Parliament and Senate by the end of June. When it becomes law, we shall forward it to the PRG as part of our 12 Month Report to our Phase One assessment adopted by this body at the September 2010 Global Forum.

Bermuda is also committed to working with fellow Global Forum members to drive the implementation of the Standard on a global scale. We will continue to play our part as a Vice-Chair of the Steering Group and contribute actively to efforts to advance the Global Forum’s mandate, at the same time continuing to ensure that the perspective of small jurisdictions is considered.

This week, Bermuda is putting it's best foot forward. We are able to do this because of all the hard work done by Premier Paula Cox and the PLP Government Team. We are committed to ensuring that Bermuda remains a respected around the world for our regulatory environment and transparency.

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