A wealth management firm’s leader is urging the Government to continuously weed out corrupt practices and make it easier to do business in Barbados.
While praising the Barbados Labour Party administration for implementing measures to stabilize the economy, co-chairman and founder of Cidel Bank & Trust, Adrian Meyer, told Prime Minister Mia Mottley: “We need you to continue the good fight to enable better business facilitation and eliminate crony capitalism and state capture at the touch points of government that we deal with.”
The term ‘crony capitalism’ is used to describe an economic system in which government officials and business leaders dole out jobs, finance and gives unfair advantages to relatives and friends. ‘State capture’ is a form of political corruption in which private business interests hold undue sway on political decision-making for their own benefit.
He said it was critical that the Government take further steps to improve the ease of doing business here, as he addressed Cidel’s 20th anniversary reception at Sandals Barbados on Monday.
In the World Bank Doing Business Report 2019, Barbados was ranked 129th – a slight improvement over its 132nd position the previous year.
Meyer said: “Madam Prime Minister, we applaud the positive changes taking place in this country since your election. The steps you have taken to restore the country’s fiscal situation and improve government efficiency will make it a vastly improved place to do business.
“Even with the continued pressure on our Barbados book, we expect to have a substantial operation yet, providing group services to our other businesses.”
He promised that his company would continue to do its “fair share” by providing high-paying and meaningful jobs, earning valuable foreign exchange and paying its taxes.
While he acknowledged the need for the recent legislative changes governing the international business sector to meet international tax rules, there was still “continued pressure on low tax jurisdictions”, which he said could limit the company’s growth opportunities for Barbados.
But he quickly pointed out that “we are fortunate years ago that we saw this coming” and had built a Canadian domestic business.
In 2007, the company established Cidel Bank Canada, the first Barbados-owned Canadian bank, hiring about 90 people in Toronto and Calgary.
Cidel also has operations in Africa and Latin America and manages more than $6 billion in assets of wealthy Canadians and institutions.
The investment advisory and wealth management firm hires more than 175 people across its operations, 90 of whom are in Barbados.
In her remarks during the reception, Mottley said she accepted that there were “some things that want to challenge your stability and peace of mind but we are not going to allow it to happen”.
She continued: “Our first task as a government was to stabilize the country and stop the bleeding. I am happy that we have done that. We are now about the task of growth because without the growth we will go nowhere and our growth will come not only in tourism, but also come in this sector, which must begin to take on the world.”
The prime minister acknowledged that there was “some difficult heavy lifting still to do locally” in order to turn the economic tide. But pointing out that Rome was not built in a day, Mottley said “you cannot reverse the declines, the implosion of decades in a year or 18 months as hard as we are trying to do”.
“We accept that there are some domestic issues that are still of concern to us,” she said, indicating that the Attorney General Dale Marshall, Minister of International Business Ronald Toppin and other government ministers have been busy working to “deconstruct and reconstruct some of these areas”.