A new piece of legislation came under heavy criticism from an Opposition Senator who suggested it was giving the director of international business too much power.
In addition, Senator Wilfred Abrahams charged that Government was running the risk of over regulating the sector with some provisions in the Corporate and Trust Service Providers Bill, 2015.
“I support the fact that regulation is required for this sector. I support the fact that this sector is way too important to Barbados to be unregulated, but we need to consider the amount of regulation actually required for the sector,” he said.
“ . . . What are the mischiefs that we hope to cure by the legislation and what legislation is actually required to allow participants to function properly without creating a disadvantage to them, either before they start in the application process, or after they’ve started in the disqualification process, or simply by reason of their means?”
Abrahams was particularly concerned that the director of international business was being given discretion in issuing, suspending and revoking licences.
He pointed to Sections 7 and 8 of the bill, saying the power of the director was “wide-ranging” and factors the director would take into consideration in deciding on an application for a licence were “too vague”.
Abrahams also argued that with the new requirements, professionals who are currently able to provide services to international business companies by virtue of their qualifications – including lawyers and accountants – would have to seek a special licence.
Insisting that “everyone should have a fair chance to practice in the sector if they satisfy certain basic minimum requirements”, Abrahams argued: “What is required for this licence . . . is where the problem comes in. It says in Section 7 (2) that an applicant shall submit with his application the prescribed fee and such information and documents as the director requires.”
“It is hammering home to anyone and everyone that this is based on the discretion and the requirements of the director. It is a potentially movable goal post. It provides the director with a very subjective power as to who should get licences and what they need to provide to qualify for the licences,” he added.
The attorney-at-law also described as “vague”, the reference to educational and professional qualifications and good financial standing which the director would take into consideration before agreeing to grant a licence.
“Natural justice, under which we lawyers operate, dictates that everybody in applying should . . . be able to access their chances of success in something,” he said.
At the start of his presentation, Abrahams had criticized the late addition of the Corporate and Trust Service Providers Bill to the Order Paper of the Senate, noting that Senators were being asked to debate legislation after just about 12 hours notice.
The Bill was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday evening.
It was given the green light from the Senate this afternoon.