After taking a hit last week in the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report, Barbados’ international business reputation has been given a much-needed boost, Minister of International Business Donville Inniss has reported.
Inniss, who led a local delegation to Paris last week for a meeting of the Global Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said the focus was on transparency and exchange of information.
While hailing the talks as successful, the minister, who took part in the discussions at the level of the 126-member OECD Peer Group, revealed that the international community no longer viewed Barbados as “partially compliant”, but as “largely compliant”, which significantly improves its chances of attracting major investments.
The revelation came against the backdrop of the release last week of the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report, which ranked Barbados 72nd out of 138 countries, representing a drop of 17 places since 2014 when it last appeared in the report.
However, zeroing in on the OECD’s “partially compliant” rating, Inniss acknowledged that the past two years had not been easy for the sector which encountered a number of challenges resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in investment.
“We had one Japanese company in particular that I know of that was about to make a half billion dollar investment through Barbados going into another country in the Western world, but could not do it because of that partial compliant rating. And the lending institution in Washington said, ‘look, we cannot do that through Barbados,’” he revealed.
Inniss also said one of the reasons the island had been regarded as “partially complaint” was due to the teething problems associated with the establishment of the Barbados Revenue Authority, set up back in April 2014 as the island’s main revenue collection agency.
“So we have certainly deliberately set about to restructure administration and to make legislative changes to ensure that we get a higher ranking . . . . We raised the bar and we did what we had to do,” he said, adding that while the island was “not perfect yet” he was satisfied that the relevant changes and upgrades were continuously taking place.
The change in rating will be formalized next month at the plenary session of the Global Forum scheduled for Tbilisi, Georgia.
“We have to take it within ourselves as leaders, as administrators and as Barbadians and ask ourselves what can we do to get a better ranking or rating going forward,” he said.
Inniss said he expected the new rating would result in more companies “feeling more comfortable” coming to set up a structure in Barbados to conduct international business.
He also urged Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states involved in the international business and financial services sector to work more closely to address matters affecting the sector in the region.