Barbados’ major foreign exchange-earning international business and financial services sector is being overhauled, and some of the measures designed to achieve that, are expected to be implemented this year.
The announcement was made this afternoon by new Minister of the Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, when he addressed the monthly luncheon of the Barbados International Business Association at Hilton Barbados Resort.
Speaking on the topic “International Business – Our Best Hope in the New Economic Order”, Inniss assured the more than 200 corporate leaders that changes were on the way “… and indeed, changes are here, in the way we at the ministry conduct our affairs, facilitate your views and interests, and implement new standards in best practice, in the administration and regulation of the sector”.
“The ministry recognises that in order for the sector to progress and develop, certain innovative developments have to be made,” he asserted.
He said his ministry was therefore putting its house in order as a matter of urgency.
“And we will be focusing on the development of an integrated approach to the marketing and promotion at the domestic and international levels, refashioning the country’s regulatory framework, creating new dynamism in the development of policies for the sector, as well as placing renewed emphasis on product formulation and development,” the minister added.
He promised that his ministry would act expeditiously to ensure that business facilitation – a significant stumbling block to new direct foreign investment – would be tackled head-on this year.
“To address this, my ministry has already started the process of consultation with stakeholders to identify the prevailing challenges and to agree on solutions,” Inniss stated.
He pledged that the first order of business would be to ensure that Government agencies fully appreciated, not only the importance of the sector to the economy and to their livelihood, but also to how their work in terms of quantity and quality, may make a company decide to come to Barbados, stay and expand here, or go elsewhere.
“I am satisfied that an enhanced Joint Policy Working Group adequately serviced by senior staff in my ministry, will provide the necessary information on these challenges, and solutions,” he added.
Inniss also disclosed that last Friday he agreed on the assignment of senior staff to ensure that work was done on a timely basis, and informed the BIBA business gathering that changes are also coming to the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, which he admitted continued to be a challenge to many service providers.
“Let me say however, that there have been great efforts made in recent years to address the issues within CAIPO and we are poised to change the image of that department,” he added.
The minister pointed out too that the CAIPO information technology infrastructure was almost ready for filing of incorporation documents and other pertinent applications electronically.
However, we do need to make changes to current legislation, namely the Companies Act, CAP 308, and the Evidence Act, CAP 121, to allow for the recognition of electronic signatures,” he added.
He announced that the proposed amendments had already been submitted to the Governance Committee of Cabinet for consideration, and urgent comments were also being solicited from all other stakeholders. Once all that was completed, the minister said he expected that CAIPO could institute full e-commerce operations in its day-to-day activities within the first half of this financial year.
Additionally, staff for the corporate affairs and international business divisions were also being addressed “with a sense of urgency”. Inniss told the business executives that a Product Development Unit would be in place within his ministry by June 1. This, he added, would help resolve another concern relating to the “perception” that the ministry as slow to respond to dynamics in the market place, to amend or create new legislation and to be more proactive.
Minister Inniss promised that yet another concern, delays in renewal of licences, would be answered by the issuance of a multi-year licence for international business companies and other entities. (EJ)†††