A delegation from the Falkland Islands attended on Tuesday 10 Downing Street where Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed leaders from ten British Overseas Territories Street for the start of their annual Joint Ministerial Council meeting. The Falklands' were represented by lawmakers MLA Teslyn Barkman, MLA Roger Edwards and Sukey Cameron OBE, Falklands government representative in London.
The PM opened by setting out her government’s desire to cement the enduring partnership that exists between the UK and the Overseas Territories, and the UK’s ambition to support their diverse economies and natural heritage.
The PM reiterated the UK’s commitment to long-term reconstruction efforts following the devastating consequences of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and invited Territory leaders of the islands worst affected – including Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos – to speak of their experiences.
As part of the UK’s continued efforts, the Prime Minister confirmed a new £70 million package of recovery and reconstruction support, supplemented by up to £300 million of UK loan guarantees for territories that need support to access finance. The leaders welcomed the financial commitment, and reiterated their appreciation for the UK’s rapid response that offered support within hours of the disaster.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity to update the leaders on the progress of our discussions with the European Union, and invited leaders to express their views so they could be properly reflected in our strategy for Brexit negotiations.
More specifically in reference to Caribbean BTOs, Mrs. May raised the issue of financial services, noting the increased focus on taxation and transparency that have come to the fore since the recently leaked Paradise Papers.
The PM recognized that a lot of work had been done following the Panama Papers last year. She thanked the Territories for the leadership they have already shown, including steps they have already taken to implement international standards, and asked for similar leadership to show what more can be done to make further progress on the issue.
The firm request can be linked to a group of a dozen British members of Parliament from various parties who recently wrote to the prime minister asking that she set a deadline for the offshore sectors under British control to publish their beneficial owner registers.
Although Mrs. May has expressed her wish for more transparency, she has not endorsed the request for public registers, which was championed by her predecessor, David Cameron. The PM is also believed to be fighting the BOT’s corner over their potential blacklisting in Europe.