Government has been accused of not fully “exploring” the International Business sector that has the potential to provide the economic growth needed at this time.
This is according to the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) First Vice-President Ryan Walters, who said there were “innovative ways to create jobs in the sector but the current administration has failed in this regard”.
He was speaking during the DLP’s Sunday Roast Facebook programme which was reviewing the Annual Estimates 2021-2022 laid in Parliament last week.
Walters, who is the party’s spokesperson on business said: “We are welcoming tourists by the Welcome Stamp but we are not seeing an International Business sector that actually wants to tap into the resources or professional services of our middle class – our graduates from university to actually provide services remotely from Barbados.”
The party’s vice president claimed that there were many untapped opportunities within the sector that must be explored.
“We are not seeing an innovation where we are creating an additional revenue stream.
“We have businesses coming to Barbados, they are formed, they have an office and our people go into the office and work but we ourselves can work remotely and give services to other jurisdictions. We are not seeing these opportunities grasped where we can empower our people to earn an income,” he said.
He added: “We would have something for our professionals to do, our attorneys, our marketing executives, our accountants.
“The International Business sector is very important to us but we are not hearing about exploration in the sector. We are not hearing about how we are going to make sure you don’t fall back on the blacklist next year or the next reporting cycle.”
Walters said he was “very disappointed” since it appeared as though it was business as usual for the current administration, adding that “they are waiting for the airlines to be filled again to bring tourists so that everything can remain as normal in their books”.
On the issue of blacklisting, he said Government seemed complacent given the reduced funds allocated during the recent Annual Estimates 2021-2022 towards ensuring that Barbados remains compliant to EU requirements. Barbados was removed from EU’s Blacklist on February 23, 2021.
“They say that the goal post is always changing with EU and their requirements in terms of being compliant. But the Estimates in terms of consulting fees to support that, would be making sure we remain compliant. ‘
“In 2019 you had $1.2 million, in 2020 $2.5 million, which is double, now in 2021 you are down to $44 000. It is a feel-good and relax until the next situation or problem arises. That is not the way we should be running this ministry,” the DLP vice president said.
“There are 44 countries that have moved off the EU radarand remain compliant. Barbados needs to be in that space where we are on top of our game, where we are spending time being proactive and ahead of the conversation.
“So that we are spending money, which will be well spent, given the fact that this whole sector amidst the entire pandemic can actually see an increase of over $200 million for the Government,” he said.
The DLP spokesman on business said there was proof in the viability of the sector given how it had performed even during the COVID-19 slow economic period.
“Corporation taxes is the only line item in the revenue that actually increased last year and that is a result of the International Business sector.
“Our revenues drop by 10 per cent but corporation tax was able to rake in more than before to help offset those losses to give us a 10 per cent net. So we should not be seeing a situation where we rest on our laurels and turn our backs because we are now on the grey list,” said Walters. (IMC)