BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday August 31, 2017 – Barbados’ international business and financial services sector is in for a major overhaul.
Minister of International Business Donville Inniss says his ministry has started a full review of the sector and changes are in the works.
“I can report to you that we have accepted that we will have to make important changes to the various pieces of legislation that govern our international business and financial services sector in Barbados. We have to be far more proactive and realize that there are some inherent dangers in our present suite of legislation, which must be amended,” Inniss disclosed at a recent seminar organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.
The Minister said the aim of the overhaul is to have “a product mix that fits into global standards, ensures greater substance in our jurisdiction and better positions Barbados to be a more significant domicile for international business”. Inniss added that changes may have to be made to the tax rates as the authorities establish the foundation for the new regime for the international business and financial services sector.
He said it was critical that Barbados “exploit the foreign exchange earning potential” of the sector while adopting international best practices for risk and compliance.
“We are therefore now poised to restructure, reengage and redirect Barbados’ international business and financial services sector to make it an even greater contributor to our economy. Part of that restructuring must include methodologies that allow us to better measure the contribution of the international business and financial service sector to the economy,” said Inniss.
In that regard, he said he recently put together a team, consisting primarily of public officers and officials from the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), to “device mechanisms that will allow us to better define the international business and financial services sector, capture the data on them and be able to report it in a timely fashion and therefore be in a better position to make informed decisions about the sector”.
Pointing out that a number of administrative and compliance matters were to be completed by the end of the current financial year, Inniss said he had asked the Ministry of Finance to grant a waiver of penalties for the sector in relation to tax filing at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office.
“While the state needs the revenue, my perspective is that more revenue will come when we have a less burdensome administrative arrangement that caters to private enterprises in Barbados,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that the sector was also being impacted by a number of international sanctions and tax laws including those coming from the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD).
However, Inniss insisted that Barbados would not roll over and play dead.
“We can quarrel and curse about being picked on by the big boys or we can cry foul and say that there . . . [is a] lot of hypocrisy because there are a lot of member states in the OECD that have regimes that are deliberately more harmful than any that we can have in the Caribbean. But the approach that my ministry has been made to undertake is a detailed self-assessment of our current suite of products and to admit to where we have efficiencies and to identify strategies to [fix] such,” he contended.