A panel of tax and financial experts is backing a call from Sir Hilary Beckles for Barbados to abandon its dependence on the Canadian market and look elsewhere to help boost the island’s economic fortunes.
Minister of International Business Donville Inniss is also agreeing with the suggestion from Sir Hilary, who is principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
“Barbados has been a very lazy jurisdiction over the past couple of years. It may sound strange coming from me as a minister, but I think there has been a high level of intellectual laziness permeating this sector. Consistently, where we sat back, put all of our eggs in one basket, now things are cracking, we complaining. I don’t think we should be saying that five years from now,” asserted Inniss.
He agreed with the panellists that there was need for this country to diversify its market, as well as the products offered.
“From my end, in my ministry we are working assiduously with BIBA and other players to get that going on the product side. And on the marketing side, I have already indicated to Invest Barbados, I have been meeting as early as today with Minister Darcy Boyce. We no longer need to be talking about going into Latin America, we need to be in Latin America,” asserted the minister.
He said Invest Barbados would have to divert some of its financial resources to get into non-traditional markets, including Latin America, Asia and Africa.
“We cannot sit back in our comfort zone and believe that the whole world revolves around us.
“We have to get out there, get to the market and get the business,” stated Inniss.
He urged the international and financial services sector to channel their issues through BIBA, so that when that organization meets with him, there would be a plan on which the country could move forward.
The Cabinet minister also gave the assurance that his ministry would be going all out to improve this country’s business facilitation status.
Leader of tax services with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gloria Eduardo, one of the panellists, urged the Government to diversify and stop relying on Canada any longer.
“We have relied on the Canadian market for a long time now. Probably 25, 30 years. Perhaps we recognized deep down this is extremely dangerous thing to do,” cautioned Eduardo.
She argued that Barbados has been complacent in this regard, resulting in the country becoming vulnerable to market forces and economic shocks.
Deputy chairman of Cidel Bank & Trust, Ben Arindell, another panellist, also suggested that the country needed to diversify.
A call for less reliance of Canada also came from leader of tax practice with KPMG, Wayne Lovell.