The pressure is mounting on international business and financial services centres as new rules are implemented, but Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has declared that Barbados will not roll over and play dead.
He said the country would remain mindful of the “new and emerging environment in which jurisdictions and significant financial centres such as Barbados are required to navigate”, and take the necessary steps to ensure its reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction was maintained.
Addressing the 23rd Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, under the theme Barbados at 50: Reaching Beyond This Horizon, Inniss urged those in the sector not to be intimidated by the changes.
“We are not daunted, but we must be strategic in our alliances and partnerships . . . as a Government, investors and stakeholders, to ensure the continued growth, health and wellness of this indispensable sector to Barbados and to our national development aspirations,” he said.
“You can always expect it to be a moving goal post and . . . I urge you to continue to pay close attention to the writers and guides of your international bodies, as they too wrap their minds around where the conversation is going on issues.”
Inniss said matters relating to the G20 call for strengthening of implementation standards on transparency and exchange of information; the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA); and the new focus on beneficial ownership, among other global polices and recommendations, had “profound implications” for Barbados’ international business and financial services sector, as well as accountants.
He described the changes as sometimes hostile but very dynamic, adding that “the organization of our human capital resource must undertake formal structures which can stand up to the scrutiny and world-class assessment” in the face of change.
Inniss said Barbados would continue to focus on increased transparency, faster turnaround times for processing of applications, and clarity and consistency on policies.
“If Barbados loses its reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction then, ladies and gentlemen, we have lost it all. So, there can be no compromising on the importance on the corporate trust and service providers,” the minister urged.
“These exogenous challenges provide an impetus on us to implement adaptive strategies that would enhance competitiveness while maintaining a robust regulatory regime within the sector. I share the view that we must now, more than ever, link our business strategy to our supervisory and regulatory strategy in order to achieve growth and success in this economy and the sector in particular,” he added, noting that some existing synergies should be revisited.
He said Barbados would also continue to play close attention to issues relating to anti-money laundering, transparency and tax compliance, given the negative impact the “categorizing of international centres as uncooperative tax havens or any other term that paints a negative picture of a jurisdiction” could have on the island.
“We remain committed to engaging in the international fora on these myriad of issues,” said Inniss.
He said while Barbados continued to make progress in being fully compliant with international best practices, a lot of work still needed to be done in the implementation of a common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of information.
Inniss said it was now official that Barbados’ overall rating on the implementation of standards on the exchange of information was upgraded by the global forum, from partially compliant to largely compliant.