Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has served notice of his Government’s intention to fight powerful global regulators on any “unfair” standards they try to impose on Barbados as an international financial centre (IFC).
He stoutly defended Barbados as an IFC destination of choice, as recognised by business leaders and industry experts, when he opened an international forum on IFCs in a Borderless Digital Environment, at the Hilton Barbados Hotel this morning.
“The longstanding association of Barbados with the success of businesses in major economies is now a fact beyond dispute. Our strong regulatory framework gives assurance of our commitment to operating according to global standards,” he argued.
“Over the years, several new actors, originating in small developing countries like Barbados, have developed the capacity to provide to the world, international business and financial services of the highest quality. For some reason today, however, the term IFC appears to focus mainly on the small developing countries providing business and financial services. In some cases they are denominated or labelled offshore financial centres, tax havens, or more ominously still, sunny places for shady people, as a well-known magazine recently proclaimed.”
Stuart lamented that whenever developing countries like Barbados endeavoured to perform as well as, or better than, developed nations the playing field ceased to be level, “and new and creative obstacles are placed in their way.”
He also referred to “an increasing body of research,” which he insisted, contradicts the negative comments and concerns that IFCs facilitate tax evasion and money laundering.
“We in the developing world must not allow the heedless self-interest of some to hinder our progress and the continued development of our economies,” the prime minister said.
He therefore urged the conference to address, head-on, the challenges to the continued development and growth of IFCs, “especially in small developing countries like Barbados”.
Meantime, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr Delisle Worrell, who also addressed today’s forum, sought to make a case for quality service of small international financial centres.
He said small IFCs such as Barbados provide internationally comparable financial and business services at competitive prices, when all the factors that affect the investment decision are taken into account.
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