If Barbados is to make the most of the blue economy, its people must be adequately trained in all aspects of the multi-faceted sector.
This was the view of at least three senators as the Upper House debated the Shipping Incentives Amendment Bill 2019.
In introducing the Bill, acting Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Lucille Moe, noted that for many years Barbados was a regional leader in fisheries and other aspects of maritime affairs, but had lost its way recently. However, the introduction of a Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy Ministry showed that Government was about to take the sector seriously once again.
In outlining some of the provisions of the bill, Moe said, “Among other things, this amendment modifies the Shipping Act and reduces the number of years of carrying forward losses for income tax purposes from nine years to seven years. This is in keeping with the financial reforms that have been ongoing regarding corporation tax. The rate applicable to deductions that can be claimed on income tax has also been reduced from 150% to 100%. In addition, it will regulate salaries and wages paid to employees who are doing marine-oriented travel, payment of agents for yachting and boating tourism working overseas to promote the island, those supplying pamphlets and brochures here or abroad to visiting yachts and boats, and the promotion of events that bring yachts and other vessels to Barbados.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Rudolph Greenidge, said having lived in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, he saw how those countries benefited from ship registration and suggested that Barbados become more heavily involved in this sector.
“A ship registry can be lucrative for Barbados, in that you pay according to the tonnage of the ship, so the more it weighs, the more you pay. Another spin off is that the owners of these vessels sometimes hold their conferences in the countries where they are registered, which brings in further revenue.”
He also suggested that more lawyers receive training in maritime law, since to his knowledge there were only two currently practising that specialised in this area.
Senator Rommell Springer mentioned that many of the skills associated with the maritime industry, such as boat building, were dying as the old practitioners passed away, and for whatever reason, they did not pass on those skills to the following generation.
Senator Lisa Cummins expanded on that point, noting that these days boat owners had to travel to other islands to get their vessels serviced owing to a lack of facilities and trained personnel here.
“We have at present some 1,500 vessels registered in Barbados, including the fishing boat fleet, and many of them have to go elsewhere to get hauled out and serviced. What if we could expand this to deal with boats constructed with other materials? Welding underwater is one of the highest paid skills for people working in the boating industry, and we need to prioritise this type of training.”