The Press, both internationally and locally, is often maligned
when it deals with matters of national importance in an aggressive
way, even though, in the majority of instances, careful research of
the facts often support the questions posed or views espoused.
Even in the most reputable of newspapers, however, there are
times when such criticism is deserved; when bias creeps in, and
half-truths are insinuated while the critical facts are ignored,
sacrificed at the altar of profitability; when selling more
newspapers becomes more important than telling the whole story,
lest truth might destroy a chance to break a story on a hot topic.
This lapse in good journalism is no more evident than in times
where seemingly sensational news has broken, and the temptation to
get ahead of a story can go even beyond the imperative of selling
more papers to corrupt journalistic mores.
Such is the case, we believe, with two articles appearing over
the last weekend in the Canadian Press, both of them fuelled by the
recent "Panama Papers" imbroglio, and both attempting to
label Barbados as a tax haven allowing Canadian companies to evade
taxation in Canada, as a result of Canada's Double Taxation
Treaty with Barbados, and their exempt surplus programme. Both
articles erroneously suggest that money can be "parked"
in Barbados away from Canadian or American tax authorities —
nothing could be further from the truth — and that the result
of this is, and will continue to be, higher taxation for Canadian
residents, clearly appealing to a sore spot in the psyche of a
population who already see themselves as heavily taxed, and to the
Canadian ethos of fair play and doing the right thing.
For those in possession of all of the facts, the subtle
deception of an experienced journalist can easily be detected, but
for the millions of uninformed readers in this Internet age, they
can do little else but follow the carefully manipulated
pseudo-facts and open-ended questions which will lead them,
inevitably we fear, to the wrong conclusions. In hard economic
times, those conclusions can coalesce and bring pressure to bear on
already economically beleaguered Governments to make changes that
are inimical to the greater good of their countries.
Successive Governments of Canada have clearly recognised, on the
one hand, the increasingly competitive nature of conducting
international business, and on the other hand, the import of the
considerable research conducted by their own University of
Toronto (Professor Hejazi, 2007, 2015), as well as by US
Universities Harvard (Professors Desai and Foley, 2008) and
Michigan (Professor Hines, 2008, 2009). That is, the use of a
reputable, well-regulated, treaty-based international financial
centre conduit, like Barbados, by Canadian companies investing
abroad, is net positive for the Canadian economy in the long run,
and that the benefits outweigh the more immediate loss of taxation
in the home country, typically seen in the use of a double taxation
treaty. Interestingly, none of this sizable body of research was
mentioned in either article.
Our purpose today, though, in highlighting these articles, is
not to address the shortcomings of the Canadian press, who are but
following what has become an unfortunate trend in sensationalist
journalism almost everywhere else in the world. Rather, it is to
call on the Barbados Government to recognise that the 300-plus
years of Canada/Barbados trade and international
business-relationship could be at risk, and that urgent action is
required on their part to spearhead a determined effort to ensure
that the new Liberal Government of Canada is in full possession of
all of the facts, and fully appreciates the value of the
Barbados/Canada international business connection. This matter
needs to be addressed at the highest level, and with the highest
priority, before uninformed opinion is allowed to fester and
misdirect electoral pressure, resulting in considerable damage to
both our own and Canada's economic future.
Source: The Publisher of the Barbados Advocate
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