Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has backed the international financial reporting requirements being imposed on Barbados, suggesting they can be of great benefit to the country.
Atherley said it was a balancing act trying to remain an independent sovereign state while meeting global standards.
He was responding to the revelations in the House of Assembly today by the Attorney General Dale Marshall that Barbados was racing to meet a June deadline to comply with a raft of new standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) intended to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Speaking during debate on the Companies (Amendment) Bill, he said: “I don’t think we are simply responding to pressure from overseas and international institutions. We are also doing what is in our best interest to ensure that our corporate culture is as sanitised as it might be. That must be a principal concern of ours… that those who operate in our corporate space are not so defiled by corrupt practises… that they stain our economy. We are already struggling… We are a small constrained economy and we are limited.”
He emphasised the importance of investment to the already ailing economy and noted that corrupt practices only served to hurt the country.
Atherley said: “Investment is extremely important. What the international world will tell you is that you lose part of your investment appeal or attractiveness when you allow yourself to be caught up in some of the bad tax practices, allow yourself to be caught up in some of the bad corporate practices so you have to correct that. Though we do these things because we are called upon by the international community to do these things there are some benefits which are definitely served at home.
He continued: “We have to so operate in our space and so govern ourselves and manage our corporate culture as to ensure we properly counter any disposition of companies among us to engage in criminal behaviour.
“We want to be seen by those who practise good corporate behaviour to be the place where they want to invest their resources so that our economy can be brought back to life. We want that confidence restored in the economy. We need to reduce financial risk.”
The Opposition Leader told the chamber that the practice of good corporate governance would also serve to protect those who invest hard-earned money in firms.
He added: “Barbados is quite familiar with situations where you have invested your money only to find that the outcome falls far short from the expectation. It has happened with private companies it is now happening with Government. Government finds itself unable to meet it debts obligations to persons abroad and locally which have invested in Government instruments people will lose much of what they have worked hard for.”