The international business sector is ripe for major expansion following comprehensive changes to regulations governing the industry, Government Minister Ronald Toppin has declared.
Stakeholders in the industry have however been cautioned against complacency in their approach to manoeuvring the vital, but ever changing industry.
During an International Business Update Workshop on Friday hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Toppin, Minister of International Business, pointed to a number of measures taken by Government which resulted in the country’s removal from the EU’s Blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions in May this year.
He however stressed the improvement of business operations through innovation and technology that would be necessary to reinvigorate and diversify Barbados’ offerings in the industry.
This, he told the conference, would work hand-in-hand with Government’s promotion of transparency, compliance and effective enforcement of regulations for banks, insurance companies, intellectual property and distribution centres.
“We must also be in a position to enable the conduct and exchange of information in cases of non-compliance and high-risk cases. As you would be aware, the Barbados Companies (Economic Substance) Act 2018-41 was introduced and became effective on January 1, 2019,” said Toppin.
“It prescribes that companies involved in geographically mobile activities such as the banking business, insurance, fund management, finance and leasing, headquarters, shipping, holding companies, intellectual property and distribution and service centres, must have their business activities controlled, directed and managed from Barbados. They must also have an adequate number of employees, expenditure and physical assets relating to that activity and its core income generating activities have to be conducted in Barbados.”
Toppin predicted the new environment would eventually become a “catalyst” for the injection of tremendous investment in citizen development as well as the sector’s infrastructure.
“The obligation to implement substance in this jurisdiction represents opportunities for all of us, whether in relation to joint ventures or start-ups, the placement of technical and vocational students or university students. It also presents opportunities for Barbados to offer non-traditional services to the world as we seek to become truly a global business hub,” he said.
Executive Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Kathy-Ann Hewitt meanwhile commended Government for its improvements in the international business sector.
She however also cautioned against complacency in a sector where the goalpost is constantly shifting and encouraged stakeholders and regulators to continuously reinvent the industry’s products and structures.
“Not only are there changes in the legal and regulatory requirements of the countries from whom we want to attract business, but there is also competition for this business from many other jurisdictions,” she told the conference.
“In order therefore, for Barbados to retain existing, and continue to attract new business in this sector… we must continually monitor trends and look for new ways to expand our knowledge and stay ahead of the curve.” (KS)
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