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As one on offshore biz


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

As one on offshore biz

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WE?ARE?WELL AWARE that the silly season is upon us and that hyperbole will be the order of the day as the political class assesses every atom of information as if it was earth-shattering, to say the very least.
Against this flood of information and, sometimes, disinformation, the role of the informed skeptic is a fitting one for those of us who are part and parcel of the Fourth Estate and whose job it is to dissect the news and the opinions of the politicians both for the man from, say, Black Rock, as well as the citizen who lives in Rockley.
The recent statement by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition Mr Owen Arthur about the state of the local international business sector is, we hope, not one of those hyperbolic statements. The responsibility attaching to that office is too serious for us not to treat any statements uttering from him with any but great respect.
To hear that a dozen of our international business companies have left these shores, taking with them about one quarter of the island’s corporate tax base, is indeed grim news, but however grim this news may be, it is the duty of those in authority to take it seriously and to give the public the benefit of their considered comments.
When we consider that every cent of those taxes is in foreign currency, then the loss of such a sizeable chunk of our offshore companies is indeed a most serious matter.
It is a loss which we can ill afford, especially at this time when the economy is still under stress and suffering from the residual impact of the recession.
This offshore sector has proved to be a very useful addition to the foreign exchange-earning aspects of the economy and it is regrettable that, whatever the cause, we may have lost so large a slice of what has been rightly called “the second largest economic sector in Barbados”.
We have no doubt that Minister of Finance Sinckler has taken note of recent developments in the offshore sector, and will speak to the issue in the upcoming Budget. Yet in the face of these allegations, one is forced, in the public interest, to ask if the authorities have discovered the reason for the pull-out and whether any further likely departures can be avoided.
No stone must be left unturned in the quest for further enrichment of our offshore sector and the appropriate intelligence initiatives must be undertaken so that we can proactively safeguard our sector and can encourage investors to come to rather than leave our jurisdiction.
The offer by the Opposition to work with Government on this issue is a good sign. The offshore sector matters to the Barbadian economy and no brownie points can be scored by making this a partisan divide between the two political parties. Moreover, we must act now. In this sector, time and tide wait for no man; and neither do our competitors. And they are legion.

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