Signed last year, the tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) between India and Seychelles has entered into force.
The TIEA entered into force on June 28, 2016, following the completion of domestic ratification procedures by both countries.
The agreement will enable the Competent Authorities of Seychelles and India to provide assistance through exchange of information relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the countries concerning taxes.
The information will be provided by each jurisdiction’s competent authority on request.
“India and Seychelles will ensure that its Competent Authority has the authority to obtain and provide “information held by banks, other financial institutions, and any persons acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity, including nominees and trustees; information regarding the legal and beneficial ownership of companies, partnerships, collective investment funds or schemes, trusts, foundations, ‘Anstalten,’ and other persons.”
The TIEA also provides for a Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving differences as regards its implementation or interpretation.
Seychelles was ranked 36th out of 159 countries and territories in the Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report.
Top position was occupied by Hong Kong which became the world’s freest economy for the 22nd consecutive year. It was followed by Singapore. The other nations in the top 10 are New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the UAE, and Australia and the UK.
The rankings of some other major countries are as follows: the United States was 16th, Germany was 30th; Japan was 40th; South Korea was 42nd; France was 57th; and Italy – 69th.
To deal with maritime crimes, Seychelles will soon activate a Regional Operation Coordination Centre, local authorities said.
The chief of staff of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF), Michael Rosette, said with the operation of the new centre should enhance the jurisdiction’s capacity to deal with the increasing threats of maritime crimes.
The announcement came after a 1-week trans-regional seminar hosted by the Seychelles Coast Guard in which 30 participants from several countries met to discuss ways to combat terrorism and violent extremism using non-violent methods. The event was organised by the American Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), the Defense Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) and the United States Embassy.
Rosette said that it is important for all to collaborate and have a concerted approach to deal with terrorism.
The course coordinator, retired US army officer Carlos Burgos, said it was important to take a strategic approach to deal with the issue of terrorism as this would allow participants to look at larger issues across their whole country. “It’s not about combating terrorism with arms but rather combating it through social and political programmes,” he said.
To remind, Seychelles has suffered economic fallout from past attacks from Somali pirates in the region.
According to the Seychelles Finance, Trade and Blue Economy Minister, Jean Paul Adam, a credit rating of BB- for the 2nd straight year for the Seychelles’ government signals the jurisdiction’s economic stability and increased resilience amid global economic uncertainty.
Fitch Ratings gave Seychelles the same grade in 2015.
The finance minister said that the rating and the archipelago’s ‘stable outlook’ affirmed by Fitch is a show of confidence in Seychelles economy. He said: “Quite a number of countries including both highly developed countries and developing African countries have been downgraded due to global uncertainties, so for us this shows that we are on the right track”.
“Fitch Ratings has affirmed Seychelles’ Long-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘BB-’ with a Stable Outlook. The issue rating on Seychelles’ unsecured foreign-currency bond has also been affirmed at ‘BB-’. The Short-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency IDRs have been affirmed at ‘B’ and the Country Ceiling at ‘BB’”.
In 2008, Seychelles had a total public debt that stood at 151% of GDP, with the external public debt representing almost 95% of GDP (USD 808 million). A default in debt payments prompted Seychelles to embark on a 5-year IMF-backed economic reform programme in October 2008, ending in October 2013. This has been followed by a new generation of reforms approved by the IMF in June 2014.
In its latest assessment, Fitch noted that the jurisdiction’s public debt remains on a downward path, while highlighting the fact that the government’s target to reduce the debt to GDP ratio to below 50% by 2018 has now been moved to 2020.
The authorities have also decided to reduce the country’s primary surplus to 3% of GDP for the years 2017 to 2020 compared to above 4% the past 2 years.
A tourism agreement signed between Seychelles and Reunion is to facilitate the exchange of personnel and the sharing of knowledge and expertise.
The memorandum of understanding was signed on August 11 following discussions on the sidelines of the Vanilla Islands’ ministerial meeting held recently in Reunion, a French department in the Indian Ocean.
According to the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), Sherin Naiken, the signing was proof of the partnerships existing between Seychelles and Reunion. The agreement is to strengthen this partnership by looking at common marketing projects and promotional activities.
Particularly, the cruise market is an area that will benefit from the new agreement.
The agreement was signed by the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), Sherin Naiken and the president of the Fédération Reunionaise du Tourisme, Azzedine Bouali.
Tourism officers from Reunion will be coming to Seychelles to learn more about the country’s tourism and marketing activities.
The new agreement is set for 3 years, but both parties expressed the hope of taking it further.
The Seychelles has committed to implementing the minimum standards put forward by the OECD on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).
The commitment comes as part of the jurisdiction becoming an associate member of the OECD’s new inclusive framework for BEPS implementation.
These minimum standards are applied on:
- harmful tax practices,
- tax treaty abuse,
- country-by-country reporting,
- dispute resolution mechanisms.
As an associate member, the Seychelles has committed to engage in future negotiations on measures and pay an annual fee.
Members of the framework will work on an equal footing to fight tax avoidance, to improve the coherence of international tax rules, as well as to ensure a more transparent tax environment.
In particular, the framework will:
- develop standards in respect of remaining BEPS issues;
- review the implementation of agreed minimum standards through an effective monitoring system;
- monitor BEPS issues, including tax challenges raised by the digital economy;
- facilitate the implementation processes of the members by providing further guidance and by supporting development of toolkits and guidance to support low-capacity developing countries.
The Seychelles recently met with more than 80 countries and jurisdictions, in the first meeting of G20 members and associate members, held in Japan. At the event, participants started work to undertake the standard-setting on remaining issues including transfer pricing and interest deductability, and the development of practical guidance to support consistent, global implementation of their commitments to the BEPS package.
Seychelles and China celebrated 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between them with a reception arranged on June 10.
Vice-President Danny Faure was guest of honour at the reception hosted by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Seychelles, Yin Lixian, at the embassy at St Louis. Also, former President James Mancham, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan; the Minister for Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy Jean-Paul Adam; the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation Michael Benstrong; members of the National Assembly, were present at the event.
Both Ambassador Yin and Minister Morgan proposed a toast for long lasting relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Yin said that the friendship between the Chinese and Seychellois people has a long history, and the past 40 years have seen massive progress in Seychelles-China relations.
Minister Morgan said for decades on, Seychelles and China established a framework for their partnership and Seychelles is proud to still have China as a trusted partner in that respect. He said: “China is the world’s most populous nation and Seychelles one of the smallest. The meaningful engagement that our two nations share is testament to how regardless of size, we have built partnership based on a spirit of mutual respect and exemplary friendship that serves as a model for the rest of the world”.
Seychelles inflation was -1.2% year-on-year in May compared with -1.1% a month earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the statistics office, said in a statement.
Seychelles and Slovenia have agreed to push for the conclusion of a double tax agreement (DTA), during a meeting held to discuss improving bilateral relations.
Slovenia’s Ambassador, Selby Pillay, said: “Slovenia and Seychelles are connected by many attributes. As small states, we understand each other’s efforts and we would be pleased to share and exchanges experiences in the fields of environment and nature conservation and tourism.”
Following the meeting, a statement was issued to announce that the 2 jurisdictions are holding negotiations towards a DTA, which would ensure that income from cross-border trade and investment is taxed only once. It would allocate the taxing rights of both Seychelles and Slovenia; potentially reduce withholding taxes on dividends, interest, and royalties income; and would likely include tax information exchange provisions.
Same-sex acts are no longer illegal in the Republic of Seychelles, making it one of the few African countries to decriminalize the acts.
On May 18, lawmakers voted for the proposal to amend Section 151 of the country’s Penal Code that named sodomy a felony, punishable with up to 14 years in prison. Fourteen lawmakers voted in favor, others abstained, while 4 were absent.
The amendment comes 3 months after President James Michel’s national address in which he said his government would introduce a bill to abolish Section 151. Michel called the law a colonial remnant and an “aberration” in Seychelles’ “tolerant” society. He reminded the nation of Seychelles’s 2011 agreement with the UN Humans Rights Council to decriminalize homosexuality.
Religious leaders criticized his remarks, saying the proposed bill went against beliefs in this mostly Catholic country.
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