As Barbados struggles under the pressure of high national debt, and inadequate foreign exchange reserves, we continue to anticipate government instituting policies that will stimulate the engines of economic growth, the international business sector being one of the major ones. The repeated reference by the government to the enormous loss of revenue from the international business sector since 2007 should be seen as a reminder of what the sector is capable of and commit us to relentless efforts to realise the full potential of this sector.
We in the sector therefore continue to encourage government to resolutely address the issues which present challenges to persons seeking to do business in Barbados, and BIBA stands ready to work with, and otherwise support the government in those efforts.
It is therefore with that focus that we have reviewed the current budgetary proposals. We cannot help but note our concern with the absence of any measures that would improve Barbados’ attractiveness to investors although we have noted the references in the Minister’s presentation to the work of relevance that will be taking place in his ministry and other ministries. We stand ready to work with the respective ministries to ensure the success of those efforts.
In terms of the actual provisions of the Budgetary Proposals we see only one matter that is creating some uncertainty as to its scope and application. It is the imposition of a 2% commission on “..all sales of foreign currency..” to extend to …” inter alia, all wire transfers, credit card transactions, and over the counter sale of foreign currencies”. There is an urgent need for a clear statement to the fact that this will not be applied to the international business sector, since to make this applicable to the sector would be a critical mistake that would likely drastically shrink the sector and its contribution to our economy.
It also concerns us that the international business sector is being subjected to the National Social Responsibility Levy. This appears contrary to the spirit and intent of all other legislation relating to international business since it can be interpreted as a disguised tax.
Doing things of this nature creates concerns of a capricious character in our administration. That is not good for business.