The agenda for this year’s Joint Ministerial Council is set.
Leaders from UK Overseas Territories presented a united front to members of the press after a long day of talks, especially when it came to the issue of beneficial ownership.
“The common position of the overseas territories who’re involved in financial services, is that when public registers of beneficial ownership become a global standard, we are there,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin.
But until then, he said the overseas territories must resist.
That’s a notion supported by leaders of other UKOTA member states present for the pre-JMC talks Wednesday (26 June).
“We have already made a stand that we are also going to wait until there’s a global standard,” said British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie.
He said pressure to adopt the public registries could jeopardise his jurisdiction’s ability to pay back the UK hurricane recovery loans.
“You cannot be putting those territories, backing them into a corner, and you have to understand how economies work,” said Mr. Fahie.
For OT’s without a large financial services footprint, like Montserrat, the issue is imposition.
“Whether it’s beneficial ownership, same-sex marriage, or whatever, imposition is what is being proposed, so we stand with our territories, or sister territories who are affected,” said Montserratian Premier Donaldson Romeo.
“You can’t dictate from Westminster, you can’t legislate from Westminster, for UK overseas territories,” said Falkland Islands MLA Teslyn Barkman.
For the Overseas Territories, the issue boils down to fairness of play.
“There is no way we today can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these sort of things to happen,” said Albert Isola.
Leaders were also sharply critical of February report from a parliamentary committee on resetting the relationship with the OT’s.