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Allan Bell Hits Back At CEPS Report

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

04 October 2002


Isle of Man Treasury Minister, Allan Bell has dismissed a report authored by Centre for European Policy Studies research fellow, Matthias Levin as a 'gloomy generic forecast'.

The 65 page report, published in September examined the prospects of eight European offshore centres - Andorra, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Madeira, and Monaco - and concluded that the future looked somewhat bleak:

'In the medium to long term, OFCs should try to expand into other fields of business that depend less on low taxes and lenient regulation, but it should be recognised that this is a process that takes time and requires assistance,' Mr Levin suggested.

However, in an interview with the Isle of Man Online news service, the Manx Treasury Minister took issue with both of the report's main assumptions, arguing that the Island is neither leniently regulated, nor in any danger of having its tax advantages eroded by international initiatives.

'The 'bleak' future for Europe's offshore financial centres predicted by Mr Levin is a wide generalisation that certainly does not apply to the Isle of Man,' he told the local newspaper, continuing:

'There is, of course, no such thing as a typical OFC, only individual jurisdictions. In the case of the Isle of Man, as the report itself concedes, the regulatory regime is robust and well up to international standards. Indeed, the Island has prospered by offering a level of regulation that enhances the reputation of the jurisdiction and the businesses that operate here.'

With regard to the 'threat' posed by OECD, FATF, and EU tax and anti-money laundering initiatives as detailed in Mr Levin's report, the Manx Finance Minister observed:

'The general thrust of the initiatives from the OECD and the EU has been against preferential tax breaks that favour non-resident business or certain sectors of business...Hence the national tax strategy launched by the Isle of Man in 2000, and the proposal announced this summer to launch a zero standard rate of income tax for businesses in 2006.'

Mr Bell predicted that the Isle of Man's competitiveness as a location for international business is likely to increase rather than decrease over the coming years, and concluded by observing that:

'International regulatory and taxation initiatives may look like insurmountable obstacles to some, but the very entrepreneurial spirit which created OFCs, together with the fact that they are sufficiently small and nonbureaucratic to move quickly in changing demands within the market place and from elsewhere, must surely stand them in good stead.'

A comprehensive report on the future of offshore following the various international tax and anti-money laundering initiatives is available in the Tax-News Reports Shop at http://www.tax-news.com/reportshop/

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