Hunte's Gardens Photo: Andrew Hulsmeier
For in excess of 30 years, Barbados’ private sector and successive Governments have teamed up in the face of stiff competition to build an industry which has the potential to transform this country in so many positive ways. International competition for tax revenues most recently highlighted through a focus on “base erosion and profit shifting” as a means to ensure that taxable profits remain onshore in the world’s powerhouses might lead some to conclude that smaller states like ours won’t stand a fighting chance as we try to keep our industries alive.
But there is a place for us in the world of international financial services and we must fight for it. Let us therefore focus on the issues and solutions which are clear. Firstly, even in the face of tough times, we must keep spending on promotion of the foreign exchange earning sectors, and especially international financial services and international business generally given its massive potential. Relative spend by Government on international business vs spend on tourism promotion is not where it should be given the level of retained foreign exchange from international business. Because it is less visible does not mean it is less important. Invest Barbados needs to be given a more adequate budget.
We have in place excellent legislation to attract high net worth individuals to Barbados. We need to let the world know that we are open for business with a well thought out product which has unique advantages for such individuals. A coordinated approach to assessing our key target markets would have real value.
Barbados has the most sophisticated network of treaties with Latin America outside of Spain and Luxembourg. Combined with our HNW regime, and hopefully soon to be proclaimed foundation legislation we can provide a platform for Latin American entry into the world markets.
We are on the road to making it easier to do business in Barbados. Our Government recognizes that while our competitors are rolling out the red carpet to clients, we cannot be entangling them in red tape. With the launch of the BRA, effective implementation will mean a single registration point for persons, the ability to offset refunds across tax systems, and the ease of settlement of liabilities.
As we begin to transition people from the central Government work force into the private sector, we have the capacity to further promote ourselves as a high end shared service destination, offering up a skilled and educated work force which can adapt to the changing need of global business.
We must make sure that our FATCA platforms are up and running. Business cannot be lost because companies are unaware of the requirements for registration, or because they lag other jurisdictions in establishing the necessary platforms.
As always, vital to our success will be the close coordination of efforts between Government and international business service providers in developing strategy, promotion plans and legislative focus.
The simple message is that we need to spend more, do more, try harder, coordinate better.