IT is being suggested that an intra-governmental committee or a separate department in the Ministry of International Business should be created in this country to help face and properly deal with the threats and challenges posed to the country’s international business and financial services sector.
So says Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, who said such can assist in maintaining Barbados as a well-regulated and recognised jurisdiction for financial services. He was speaking as he delivered last week’s Astor B Watts Lunchtime Lecture on the topic “Protecting Our Financial Borders” at the Democratic Labour Party’s headquarters.
“The issues are far-reaching, the goal posts are moving all the time and many jurisdictions like us are reactive as opposed to proactive. So you spend lots of money going to meetings in Geneva and in France and far-flung places, to sit and to understand what the issues are etc. I believe that given the fact that this is not going to change, that we should form a team of specialist persons whose sole responsibility will be to guide us through these challenges that we will continue to have,” he said.
Brathwaite further indicated, “As I said over the years, every time we believe that in fact that as a region or that as a country we are complying to the international best standards in terms of knowing your client
To that end, the Attorney General said the committee or unit he has proposed would be tasked with ensuring that as a jurisdiction, Barbados keeps ahead of the curve and complies with the international best standards. If established, he is confident it will go a long way in helping Barbados to continue promoting itself as the best regulated jurisdiction in the region, if not in the world. Brathwaite’s remarks came as he charged that the government – of which he is a part – has not been given enough credit for maintaining the level of employment and business in the financial services sector, in spite of the challenges it has
He was referring to the decision by Canada to alter its tax and banking laws, which resulted in some international business companies leaving Barbados and the country recording a $200 million loss in tax revenue annually since, and the new rules constantly being imposed by international agencies on the sector.
With that in mind, he said Government has not sat idly by, as he noted that over the last decade, Barbados has signed more double taxation treaties under the present DLP administration, than under any other government in the history of this country. Additionally, he said the country has also sought to diversify by going into new markets including Mexico.
“We have not stood still and said to you the public that there is nothing that we can do and that these international agencies are driving us out of the market, because the industry is too important to us… One of the challenges that we have going forward is the fact that we are going to have to address the issue of the fiscal incentives that we give; not only us – it is a worldwide issue – and try to reinvent ourselves,” the AG said. (JRT)
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