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Jersey And Guernsey Join Forces In Talks With OECD

Mandy Robinson,, London

24 November 2000

The Guernsey and Jersey States have pledged to support each other and present a united front in future negotiations with the OECD. This was the message in a joint press statement released this week by Guernsey Deputy Laurie Morgan, and Jersey Senator Pierre Horsfall.

In the statement the politicians announced: 'We have resolved to work together on a single Channel Islands response to the OECD because we have the same interests in getting this matter resolved. We now intend to consult with the business communities in both islands before having discussions with the OECD.'

Deputy Morgan explained: 'The time has come to formalise arrangements for cooperation with Jersey. We have been in close touch with each other on these issues for some time and there has been friendly consultation. From now on we will be making joint representations and we will be having joint meetings with the OECD whenever it is possible and appropriate.'

Deputy Morgan continued by describing the attitude of the OECD as 'somewhat woolly' and expressed doubts over what the international organisation required from the islands, saying: 'There have been times when we were not sure that the OECD really knew what it wanted. Those issues have become somewhat clearer latterly. The OECD seems to be mainly concerned about the exchange of information and the ending of ring-fencing of tax regimes. One thing we were not willing to do was to sign up to some document that committed us to something we, and the OECD, were not able to define.'

Both the Bailiwicks are asking for in-depth talks with the OECD countries and non-OECD jurisdictions to discuss an agreement or compromise on sticky issues such as information sharing and tax competition.

According to Deputy Morgan the Jersey-Guernsey coalition will promote the sharing of information through agreements as laid out in the OECD's report "Improving Access to Bank Information for Tax Purposes". 'We have always been prepared to exchange information on criminal matters,' he said, 'the problem now is that nobody seems to have defined civil tax matters and that will have to be discussed. All this will be done on the basis that we continue to operate on a level playing field with the OECD members.'

Deputy Morgan concluded: 'What we have just announced follows through with the message of cooperation Senator Frank Walker and I delivered at the recent St James' question time and what Senator Walker said here in Guernsey last week. However, whatever proposals or recommendations come from the senior politicians in Guernsey and Jersey will, of course, be submitted to the States of both islands for approval.'


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