Burt upbeat on meeting with May
David Burt has met with Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, while visiting London to attend a Joint Ministerial Council of the UK Overseas Territories, and to support a Bermuda business development event.
The Premier and leaders from nine other overseas territories today met Mrs May at Downing Street.
Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Burt said: “As chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Association, we discussed issues that are important to all overseas territories.”
He said he had reinforced Bermuda's global leadership in relation to tax transparency and “made it known at the highest level of British government that Bermuda is leading in this aspect, and we expect the UK to support us as we work to grow our economy and ensure that our economy is sustainable, and that we have a future in the very important financial service industry.”
Mr Burt said the meeting focused on issues common to the overseas territories, and in particular the relief and recovery of Caribbean jurisdictions in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The aims of the overseas territories are very different; from the Falkland Island to St Helena and Pitcairn there is a wide variety. But there are common themes for all and we want to ensure we have stable economies. We are talking about how we can ensure we have sustainable development across all of these territories and meet our common goals, which are security and the advancement of our people.”
Noting that Bermuda is the largest of the overseas territories in terms of population, he said the island “will lead the charge in making sure that the UK represents all our interests”.
A Downing Street spokesperson said Mrs May had, during the JMC meeting, reiterated the UK's commitment to long-term reconstruction efforts following the devastating consequences of Irma and Maria.
The spokesperson said: “As part of the UK's continued efforts, the Prime Minister confirmed a new £70 million package of recovery and reconstruction support, supplemented by up to £300 million of UK loan guarantees for territories that need support to access finance.”
Mrs May gave an update on discussions with the European Union and invited the leaders of the overseas territories to express their views so they could be reflected in the UK's Brexit negotiations.
The Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister had raised the issue of financial services, noting the increased focus on taxation and transparency that have come to the fore since the publication of the so-called Paradise Papers, a major cache of stolen documents from offshore law firms, including Appleby.
“The prime minister recognised that a lot of work had been done following the Panama Papers last year. She thanked the Territories for the leadership they have already shown, including steps they have already taken to implement international standards, and asked for similar leadership to show what more can be done to make further progress on the issue,” said the spokesperson.
Mr Burt also met other members of the UK government, including Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
And on Thursday and Friday the Premier will be in contact with EU officials in Paris and Berlin.
The EU is presently drafting a list of countries that fall foul of a set of tax transparency and related criteria. The international charity Oxfam today dubbed it an “EU tax haven blacklist” and said it “has to include Switzerland and Bermuda”.
However, Mr Burt said: “It is a list of non co-operative tax jurisdictions, and Bermuda is the antithesis of a non co-operative tax jurisdiction.
“We are leaders in international tax transparency and compliance.”
He said Bermuda is a co-operative jurisdiction that will continue to lead the way in tax transparency and compliance, adding: “Bermuda will continue to demonstrate leadership in that.”
Mr Burt also spoke at today's one-day Bermuda Executive Forum in central London. The event was hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency. Representatives of insurance, reinsurance, captive insurance, the trust and private client sector, asset management and insurance-linked securities were among the almost 200 delegates who attended.