By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE PRIME Minister yesterday dismissed Opposition claims that his meetings with European Union (EU) officials made it appear as if The Bahamas was “grovelling” to their demands.
Dr Hubert Minnis hit back at assertions by PLP chairman, senator Fred Mitchell, that his seemingly rushed trip to Brussels was “quite strange” and makes the country look like “grovelling mendicants”.
Mr Mitchell questioned why the prime minister led the Bahamian delegation when his administration contains a finance minister, international trade minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the EU.
But Dr Minnis responded bluntly, saying of the Opposition: “I don’t worry about them. They’re looking to get my job. I don’t worry about them.”
He added that the Bahamian delegation was able to “clarify a few concerns” the EU may have held about The Bahamas’ compliance with their demands.
Dr Hubert Minnis said this week’s visit to Brussels provided a “significant opportunity” to ensure the European Commission, which acts as the 28-nation bloc’s civil service, fully understands the scope of legal reforms enacted by this nation to comply with its anti-tax evasion offensive and thus avoid its upcoming “blacklist”.
Addressing the Bahamas Business Outlook conference, Dr Minnis said: “The bilateral meeting was very constructive and provided The Bahamas with a significant opportunity to ensure the commission fully understands the scope of the efforts we are taking to adhere to global standards.
“This includes a package of recently-passed legislation, and a new framework aimed at strengthening industry regulations and protecting financial services’ competitive edge as a leading international financial centre. The Government is doing everything it can, in co-operation with industry stakeholders, and in keeping with our national interests, to protect this important industry.”
Dr Minnis reiterated following his presentation that the talks with the EU Commission had been positive. “We had excellent discussions and interactions,” he added. “The attorney general was able to clarify a few concerns that they may have had and, all in all, they stated that these types of dialogues and communications they would hope we could have more of going forward.”