Government might have dropped the ball when it comes to ironing out challenges facing the international business and financial services sector.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss made this acknowledgement, adding that officials within the sector should also be blamed for their failure to help correct the challenges.
Inniss made the observation during his remarks at the opening of the fourth annual international business and financial services sector (IBFS) conference at the Central Bank on Wednesday.
The theme was The Barbados Ibfs Centre: Moving Beyond Pass To First Class.
Inniss outlined a number of “major challenges” which he said had the potential to impede growth in the sector. He said some of the challenges came about as a result of, in addition to the recession, “some of our own actions, tardiness and indecisiveness”.
“Frankly, we cannot blame the global situation alone for our state of affairs. As a nation and as a Government, we have to shoulder some of the blame as we are tasked to shoulder the responsibilities of fixing the problems,” said Inniss.
Some of the challenges, he said, included increasing global pressure for higher standards in international financial centres from various agencies and international bodies.
Other challenges, he said, included: “The most recent pronouncements made during the presentation of the Canadian budget 2014 on their proposed changes to domestic legislation and its impact upon our sector, especially private banks and some insurance entities”.
He said it was therefore necessary for Barbados to implement steps to strengthen the value proposition of the international business sector, and enhance its international competitiveness.
“There is the need for us to be far more proactive than we have ever been in developing new products and new markets. I am afraid that we may have failed to more aggressively pursue new markets years ago,” said Inniss.
He said there was a need for stakeholders within the public sector to understand and appreciate the sector and its importance to this economy, while suggesting that it was also perhaps time to change some of the jurisdictions that the island was using as benchmark for years.
“More resources, both in terms of quality and quantity, have to be invested in this sector,” the minister added.
He said going forward there would be zero tolerance “to anything not compatible with being well-respected and well-regulated jurisdiction”.
“To this end, we at the ministry in concert with our valued partners Invest Barbados, the Financial Services Commission and you here at the Central Bank have embarked on a number of strategies to strategically strengthen our relationship with source markets,” said Inniss, adding that he was in the progress of attracting more business out of the Latin American market.
He said a plan to communicate the benefits to source markets and their economies that can be achieved through using the quality services of the Barbados International Finance Centre, was being implemented.