Archive for December, 2016

New Cayman finance bill proposes more reporting

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

The Government of the Cayman Islands has gazetted a list of amendments to the Public Management and Finance Bill that covers important changes when it comes to the reporting of how government is spending public cash. The Public Management and Finance (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2016 is expected to be debated in the Legislative Assembly when it meets again in January 2017 and the new law will see government departments reporting their financial circumstance to parliament on a quarterly basis.

The amendment bill is now open for public discussions. It is aimed to provide a clear and simple process for pre-election financial updates and government unaudited quarterly reports that can be presented to the LA and to streamline the provision of annual reports.

The bill covers changes to transactions where no appropriation is required for improving transparency, and the proposed bill aims at more clearly defining the functions of the minister of finance, the financial secretary, the chief officer of finance and the director of internal audit, chief financial officers, and other senior public officials involved in the financial aspects.

Finance Minister Marco Archer spoke recently about his desire to pay off more of government’s debt in addition to the regular payments being made. However, paying more off a debt would see Cayman lose control of its finances again, which Archer has said is a significant barrier to improving the governments financial situation.

Cayman Economy grows by 3%, surpassing predictions

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Statistics released by Cayman Islands Government indicates that the local economy grew by around 3% in the 1st 6 months of 2016, surpassing predictions and reflecting the best growth rate in the country since before the economic crisis.

The forecast GDP growth for 2016 has now been adjusted from the expected 2.1% forecast by the finance minister during the budget to 3% because of the improved performance in the 1st part of the year. The government purse is also fuller than expected as the stronger economy has boosted revenue by 9.7%.

According to the latest numbers from the Economics and Statistics Office, the Cayman Islands Government expects to end the fiscal year with a surplus of $127.5 million, which is 10.8% higher than the CI$115.1 million the administration achieved in 2015. The finance ministry has also been getting on top of the government’s debt, which at the end of June was down 3.7% from last year to CI$501.3 million.

Following the release of the figures, Finance and Economic Development Minister Marco Archer said: “I am pleased to note that growth in the first half of 2016 improved on the 1.3% growth for the same period in 2015”. He added that it also exceeds the initial GDP forecast for the year of 2.1%, and is the highest growth rate since 2007.

The main boost to the economy, however, may be bad news for the environment as it is based on a growth in construction, quarrying and consumption. The semi-annual growth was due in large part to an 11.4% growth in construction, while wholesale and retail trade grew by 7.6%.

Growth in the financial services sector, which still accounts for the bulk of Cayman’s earnings, was considerably more modest. Financing and insurance services grew by 3.6%, which the ESO said down to the domestic lending activity of commercial banks rather than the offshore industry. While visitor numbers are still growing, the hotel and restaurant sector declined by just over 1%.

The GDP estimate for 2015 shows that the local economy was where the growth was concentrated. “The 2.8% growth exceeded the 2% advance estimate for the year based on early indicators,” Archer said. “Moreover, it was broad-based as all sectors in the economy turned in positive growth rates. This augurs well for the increased diversification of our economic base.”

Cayman listed as 2nd worst tax haven

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

The Cayman Islands has been listed as one of the worst corporate tax havens in the world in a new report examining the impact that tax-dodging corporations have on the world’s poorest people. Published by the international charity Oxfam, the report lists Cayman in second place behind Bermuda because of the zero-rated corporate income tax and what the charity said is a lack of cooperation with international efforts against tax avoidance.

But Oxfam stated in the report that there is a destructive race to the bottom on corporate tax.

Also, it said that the growth in the use of tax havens means countries are finding it harder and harder to tax income from capital. Government coffers are declining and the burden of tax has shifted toward poorer workers and small businesses and away from powerful conglomerates and the world’s high net worth individuals.

Oxfam names on-shore countries as well as offshore financial centres, such as Cayman and Bermuda, but the charity is calling on world governments and corporations to facilitate much more transparency over who owns what and who pays tax where on their earnings and profits. The charity also raised concerns that in the country-by-country reporting between government authorities the information is still not public. This means developing countries cannot access the data.

Responding to this latest critical report, Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton accused Oxfam of making errors on its list and of exploiting misinformed public opinion, as part of an agenda to influence the public policy of G20 countries.

Panton said that the report “may be detrimental to the overall shared goal of combating criminal behaviour and addressing income inequality”. He claimed that Oxfam’s overriding error is their failure to differentiate between capital flows and profit shifting.

To engage in profit shifting, a jurisdiction must attract significant multinational corporations, or MNCs, he explained. “Cayman does not have this type of business. We do, however, receive capital flows that are used to the benefit of other jurisdictions, via investment projects”.

Cayman Finance https://www.cayman.finance/, the local body representing the offshore sector, has described a recent Oxfam report on tax havens as “the same purposefully misleading rhetoric pretending to be research that Oxfam has published and republished for years”. Cayman Finance said the analysis was biased and “intentionally inaccurate and misleading information”, as it accused the global charity that has been helping the world’s poor and vulnerable people for well over 70 years of advancing an agenda and harming countries they do not ‘like’ in the process.

Cayman Finance CEO Jude Scott claimed that the Oxfam report was “alarmism” that was “unsupported by the facts”.

He said that international policymakers recognise the “vital role the Cayman Islands plays in the global economy”, as he advanced the idea that Cayman connects law-abiding users and providers of investment capital and financing around the world, which benefits both developed and developing countries.

“Oxfam continues to use a misleading and overly simplistic definition of what a tax haven is. Its assertion that a zero tax jurisdiction is a key criterion in defining a tax haven is simply not correct. Cayman Finance believes that any criteria used should be transparent, objective and meaningful,” Scott said. ‘Tax haven’ is a place providing shelter for illegal or inappropriate transactions and a jurisdiction that engages in practices that supports or conceals transactions relating to tax evasion, which is illegal. So, the Cayman Islands is not a ‘tax haven’, he said. “The Cayman Islands is an efficient and effective tax neutral jurisdiction that does not add additional taxes and has been recognised for decades as a strong partner in combatting global financial crime including money-laundering, terrorism financing, corruption and tax evasion. The Cayman Islands has gained the reputation of a transparent jurisdiction by meeting or exceeding globally accepted standards for transparency and cross border cooperation.” He said this jurisdiction provides a tax neutral platform that allows parties domiciled in countries that have differing laws, regulations, tax rules and customs to do business with each other.