Fri 21st Nov 2008

Money laundering, tax evasion and Taiwan

SVG Green Party would like to know if the former Taiwanese President, who is in jail in Taiwan for alleged money laundering and corruption, is the owner of the Taiwanese fishing fleet operating on SVG high seas fish licence. When PM Gonsalves took office in 2001, he said on television that fish was important to Taiwan/SVG relations. Taiwan has about one hundred and fifteen fishing vessels registered on SVG high fish licence register as locally owned.

The SVG Fish Act 2001 requires that Taiwan place Vincentian observers on their ships. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) requires that all Taiwan ships flying the SVG flag be registered in SVG as locally owned by local fishermen. A company based in Trinidad has all Taiwan fishing vessels registered in its name as locally owned. Had this company been based in SVG it would require that Taiwan pays tax on its fish catch. The ULP government turns a blind eye on Taiwan's evasion of taxes by having their company based in Trinidad.

Money laundering on fish can occur when the actual fish catch is substantially over stated. SVG has not placed any observers on the Taiwanese ships as mandated by the 2001 Fish Act. Taiwan's fish catch is off loaded in Trinidad and the fish is processed and shipped from Trinidad. Therefore we have no idea of the actual fish catch.

Vincentians of all walks of life have to pay taxes. It is totally unacceptable for the ULP regime to be turning a blind eye on Taiwan evasive practice, by (a) not placing observers on their ships, and (b) not having the company in whose name Taiwan fishing vessels are registered locally based in SVG.

SVG is in need of a children's hospital. The ULP regime has said it cannot contribute towards its construction because it has no money. The country is under severe financial pressure from VAT, an outrageously high fuel surcharge and a climbing high cost of living.

SVG Green Party is calling for the irregularities with Taiwan to be corrected by amending the Fish Act of 2001 to require the company in whose name the Taiwanese fishing vessels are registered to be based in SVG, and to ensure that the fish licences are operated on a joint venture basis. This will allow our country to benefit from at least 300 million dollars of revenue annually from fish taxes.

The amount of money lost is enormous. We could upgrade our health services; abolish examination fees for all students; build new factories to utilise our local fruits and vegetables and Rabacca sand and give interest free loans to our local fishermen for them to purchase deep-sea equipment. We must maintain our international dignity by avoiding the begging bowl syndrome.

It is essential that our economy is saved. SVG Green Party wants all citizens of SVG to have a better quality of life, but this will never happen whilst the ULP regime continues to bring down our economy. We have high unemployment, much crime and high taxes, all because our economy has been weakened by ULP regime policies. A Green government is the only positive way forward.

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