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Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Caribbean nations “must always be on guard to maintain their sovereignty and independence,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament yesterday as he detailed how France put this country on a blacklist in 2010.

This country was on Feb. 16 removed from the French blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, two year after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) declared this country as “clean,” Gonsalves told legislators.

He said that France acted unilaterally and outside of the ambit of the OECD and warned citizens to be careful of anything that “seeks to derogate from the juridical capacity” and “those who want to score political points across the country”.

He said such entities should not tamper with “the juridical basis of our sovereignty and independence”, adding, “this is something which is of critical importance to us: to stand up and to be counted in the comity of nations and it reflects on all of these matters”.

“We made our position very clear in relation to France at the time. I notice elections are coming on in France and we have the drumbeat again of non-cooperative jurisdictions and also ‘the French blacklist,’” Gonsalves said.

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SVG was among several Caribbean countries blacklisted, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia. Some of these countries remain blacklisted.

“… among the countries listed are countries that are recognised, generally speaking, to have ‘clean’ off shore jurisdictions or international financial jurisdictions,” Gonsalves said.

“But there some people in Europe — it doesn’t matter what is their philosophical position, whether they are social democrats, as the case of former prime minster Gordon Brown in the United Kingdom or President Sarkozy [of France], towards the right wing in France — they hold the same position.

“It is as though people are looking for excuses for the meltdown in their own countries, in the United States and Europe with a lack of proper regulation and all the like to try and blame other people for their problems,” Gonsalves said.

He added that Caribbean nations “had nothing to do with the crash of international capitalism”, adding, “We have had to bear the consequences.

“So when I speak on an issue like this and there are persons who try to pretend that large countries don’t want to see us in a disadvantageous position and who might be inclined to belittle our sovereignty and independence. I urge them to rethink and I give them the benefit of my long years of study of history and my experience as Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the last 11 years. … When we are addressing these countries, we should be as one and don’t have the petty divisions among us,” Gonsalves said.

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