Parliament will be asked within months to amend a law and allow international business companies indefinite licences to operate in Barbados, wiping out roadblocks to seamless business. Cabinet has already approved the measure, instructions are being passed on to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s Office this week for insertion of amendments to the International Business Companies (IBCs) and Societies with Restricted Liabilities Law for passage through the House of Assembly before start of the next financial year, according to Minister of International Business, Donville Inniss.
He said this move is in response to unease among these offshore operators that there exist bottlenecks to doing business in Barbados.
“Over the years, service providers in the international business sector have raised concerns in respect to service levels and the time it takes to do certain things in the sector from Government side,” he told Barbados TODAY on Sunday, following a meeting with constituents in his St James South Constituency.
Barbados’ International Business Companies and Societies with Restricted Liabilities Law constitutes the main element in island’s offshore sector, which the IMF last year stated controls US$47 billion in assets – 87 per cent of GDP.
Inniss explained the motive behind the upcoming proposal: “It’s more on the renewal of the licence. Licences, generally speaking, expire December 31 of each year. So at the end of the year you get a whole set of renewals coming in.” He said that given the scrutiny required for renewal of such licenses, the process can take as long as six months.
He said as a result, “in the intervening period the company legally is not an IBC, and therefore should not have the benefits of a lower tax rate, foreign exchange accounts, and all the necessary things that they would do or benefit from an IBC licence”.
“What we decided to do as a Government is to go the route of an indefinite licence, meaning that once your licence is issued it remains in force until or unless revoked or suspended by the competent authority.” The minister said this should boost confidence of the companies, as although they will be required to submit information on their operations for approval annually, “their business can continue, uninterrupted because they have the legal coverage to do what they should do and to get all the benefits they should get . . . it certainly will reduce the workload, reduce the paperwork and just make it a lot easier now to do business generally speaking in Barbados”. (GA)