Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
Recently the Minister of Business, Kerrie Symmonds, in an address to the international business sector, lamented Barbados’ delay in implementing a register of beneficial owners of Barbados incorporated entities.
As per usual, the Minister blamed past Governments and members of the business sector for the state of affairs on this issue and not having complied with the OECD and other agencies.
It would have done the Minister well to have seriously studied the issues and to understand them before making threats and capitulating to OECD in the presence of the economically vital but seemingly docile international sector (IBFS).
As a lawyer, he would know that in all jurisdictions it is the directors and not the shareholders,who direct the affairs of a company. Companies that engage in legitimate or illegitimate activities do so at the direction of the directors.
To demand that the names and other pertinent information on shareholders be placed in a public place defies the basic tenet of a corporation which is to separate individuals from a corporation and to allow the entity to be a stand alone body corporate taking on a life of its own.
To date, the US has not even contemplate doing such. Over the past few decades demands have been made of jurisdictions like Barbados to tighten up on regulatory matters in the banking, insurance, legal and business sectors as they grew out their IBFS
sector with tremendous benefits to our economy.
Now it looks as though we are simply sitting back and taking instructions or worse yet bending over without knowing what is coming next. We keep doing as they say and not as they do. Barbados always stood up to the
bullies and defended its position without fear or favour. We once were friends of all and satellites of none.
To come now and tell Barbados, now a republic thereby fully sovereign, that the Cabinet has agreed to capitulate to the OECD et al and behave as though Barbados has been playing Russian roulette smacks of both arrogance and ignorance.
We have built and sustained a comprehensive IBFS sector based on sound laws, competent human resources, a strong network of tax treaties and modern technology. Barbados has never been a tax haven but a prudent international business sector – a point seemingly lost on the current Minister.
But recently, PM Mottley proclaimed that she was going to Paris en route to Washington DC for the purpose of reading the riot act to the OECD, EU and others of the Paris club who are demanding a minimum 15 per cent global business tax.
To date we have not had a report on the outcome of said meetings in Paris. But it leaves one to wonder if the trip to Paris was made before or after the Cabinet signed off on the beneficial register agreement. The two issues are intertwined and are both dictates of the same Paris clubs.
It was the same Cabinet that in 2018/19 decided to lower Corporation Tax to under 5 per cent. No one was pressuring them to do such then except possibly some of their local private elector financiers.
We should all regret that decision as it has placed the tax burden squarely on the shoulder of households that can least afford it, and despite all the huffing and puffing by Mottley, Symmonds et al, Barbados will capitulate and raise its tax rate especially for international entities here.
It appears as though Barbados is only taken seriously on the international arena when it comes to borrowing money and espousing the virtues of the neoliberal agenda. What a sad state of affairs!
With tourism stalled and the IBFS sector now rudderless and on a downward spiral, coupled with an unprecedented level of foreign borrowings, one is left to wonder when our leaders will stop the PR gimmicks and start to devise and implement strategies to save our economy and society.
Barbados is on the economic precipice and with the leaders we have we seem destined to fall over the edge. May God have mercy
Douglas Leopold Phillips, Jr.