Government is taking steps to stave off a potentially damaging rift between its regulators and players in the crucial international business sector.
Minister of Commerce and International Business, Donville Inniss revealed to Barbados TODAY, that state regulators and stakeholders in the IBS, will meet at the discussion table in a couple weeks time, to agree on a common way forward for Barbados and avoid what he called contentious times.
“I think it is important that we don’t have contentious times, but rather recognise that we can all work together,” Inniss added. “My ministry is currently talking with BIBA (Barbados International Business Association) and other stakeholders to have a regulators’ forum – ‘meet the regulators’ we call it. I am of the view, we need to have a closer working relationship between the regulators and those in the industry,” pointed out
Among the state regulators he identified were Customs & Excise Department, Immigration Department, Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Division, the International Business Unit and the Financial Services Commission. He noted that these agencies were responsible for issuing licences and facilitating
Emphasizing his earlier position that all parties needed to work together for the common good of this country, the International Business Minister continued: “A lot of times the anger emerges because of a lack of communication on both sides. I can’t sit here and blame one and not the other. So what we will first do in the next couple weeks, is to have a meet the regulators forum, where the service providers and players in international business sector, can meet with those on the government side around the table and discuss issues and strategize on how we can move forward.”
The Cabinet Minister said too, that the Strategic Plan for International Business was now in its final stages and he expected it would be ready by year end.
“That plan will chart the way forward for the industry for the year 2014 to 2019. As from the government perspective and stakeholder perspective, we can say this is the direction we are going to take in international business and financial services over the next five years. A lot of work is being done now, but a lot of people are calling for one document that they can point to, to say, this is the strategic plan and [which] also provides a guide for how we measure ourselves in the sector.”
The minister also disclosed that government was in the process of completing the Service Providers Regulations.
“But here again, we recognise we have to raise the bar in terms of service providers in this island, because bad service providers can make it bad for the entire industry. And we are endeavouring to bring clarity as to the definition of a service provider and how we effectively regulate them,” Inniss asserted.
Another area of interest for him, was measuring the true contribution the IBS makes to the local economy.
“We have seen a lot of figures around, depends on who you talk to, you get different information and that is not good for serious planning. We know that this sector is extremely critical to this economy,” observed the International Business Minister. He also told this newspaper that Cabinet now has before it, proposals for the issuing of multiple licences to international businesses which want to set up in Barbados.
“So we will shortly be doing away with situations where you have to get a new licence every year. [So] once a licence is issued to an international business or SRL (Society with Restricted Liability), then it remains in force until suspended or cancelled for
Inniss suggested that the proposed multiple licences would make it a little easier for clients in the international business sector, and also bring a greater sense of security and clarity to those doing business here.