Not good enough, says Holmes
Barbados has not achieved anywhere near its potential as an international business jurisdiction, says Executive director of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Henderson Holmes.
Speaking to the media after a church service at the St James Parish church to mark BIBA’s week of activities, he said given the talent and education honed by those here, by now the country should have achieved a lot more.
“Given the high standards of education and the quality of workforce that we have to offer and the kind of physical infrastructure that we have managed to develop that makes for comfortable living, we think we should have achieved a lot more and we are no where near our potential and that is what we are driving for along with the Government,” he said.
He said while the monetary contribution to the country was significant, with the income tax contribution for 2009 being $274.4 million, making up 58 per cent of the total corporation tax being paid in Barbados, other significant contributions were yet to be measured.
“If you think about the sector, these are businesses that are catering to an international market, so they earn no income in Barbados, but they pay rent, telecommunication costs, those coming to do business utilise the hotels.”
Holmes said they had been lobbying for some years for measurement of their contributions and Government had finally heard their pleas.
He said Government had engaged consultants with European Union (EU) funding to look at creating a mechanism for measuring the contributions for the IB sector.
“We are hoping that the exercise will help indicate what is the real contribution in terms of dollars,” he stated.
Holmes said one of their major challenges however, was getting “Barbados and people from all walks of life” to understand how important international business was to the economy.
“If you look at the business we have attracted to Barbados over the years and if you have looked at how we have managed to retain business, you would realise there is a significant stability to the sector, and that is something that is important to an economy going forward.
“The reality is that when we talk about generating new jobs, there are a siginificant number of people with their degrees and professional qualifications, but the question is where are they going to work?
“Jobs are generated based on the demand for services and there is just so much demand business generated by a population of 280 000 people. so we have to be reaching out and servicing that international market place that is available to us,” he stated.
Minister of International Business and International Transport George Hutson said Barbados had to continue to uphold international best practices and continually review the regulatory legislation.
“Accordingly, we have laid in Parliament the Financial Services Commission Bill,” he noted.
He said the Commission when established, would enhance the supervision and regulation of the non- banking financial sector, including the cooperatives.