PORT VILA, 03 FEBRUARY 2020 (VANUATU DAILY POST) —-Ambassador of France to Vanuatu, Pierre Fournier, says France as a European Union (EU) member is compelled by law passed in 2018 to include the countries that are on the EU blacklist on its national list.

He stated this to explain why France placed Vanuatu on its blacklist.

“The world has changed, there are world economic systems with rules, which are made to ensure stability and an equitable world economic system.

“Cooperation and transparency are part of that system,” he said.

The Ambassador says the issue is three-fold and it begins with the question as to why citizens pay taxes. He says French citizens pay taxes to have hospitals, schools, police, roads and infrastructures.

“If a third country contributes to evading part of these taxes, who’s interfering in whose system?

“They’re depriving the citizens who are entitled to the benefit of these taxes,” he said.

Fournier says there is a EU list and France as a member is compelled by law that was passed by France in 2018 to include the countries that are on the EU blacklist on its own national list.

He says there is no other intention behind the decision by France.

The Ambassador says the EU list was done by all EU members, which France is a member.

He says he knows there are ongoing negotiations between Vanuatu and the EU.

“The moment that the negotiations succeed and an agreement is reached between the EU and Vanuatu and the moment Vanuatu is wiped from the EU list, it will also be wiped from the French list.

“It is as simple as that,” Ambassador Fournier reiterated.

He continues that Vanuatu is part of the list of non-cooperative states, which does not necessarily mean that something bad is happening, but rather a lack of access to information.

He says when there is an offshore structure in Vanuatu or setting up of offshore companies where they don’t contribute at all to the economy of the host country, it is evasion of taxes from the country of origin of the company.

“What we need is transparency and a structure through law for exchange of information to allow us to know exactly what is happening here,” the Ambassador said.

Fournier says the impact of the blacklisting by France does not affect imports and exports, nor any financial flows between the two countries.

“If we don’t know the origin or the reality of these flows, we tax them heavily, 75% — that’s the consequence.

“If a company bears the consequences of these countermeasures, and they are exposed to this heavy taxation of financial flows, the company can defend itself by providing all due documents to the French fiscal service.

“If all the documents show that these flows of dividends or financial flows are based on real activities in Vanuatu and in France then we will lift the heavy taxation,” the French Ambassador said.

He says by imposing these countermeasures, no government is being accused of willingly or consciously trying to contribute to tax evasion, but rather that the system as it is today is not clear and more information is needed.

“I am confident that there is a strong will by authorities here to find, as quick as possible, a way out of these disputes,” the Ambassador said……PACNEWS