EDITORIAL: Keeping safe our offshoring
Once again, our offshore sector is under attack – this time from sources within Canada, a country that has been traditionally most favourable to Barbados offshoring.
Toby Sangster, a senior economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, has accused Canadian banks of shuffling large amounts of cash into Barbados, as well as The Bahamas and The Caymans.
Fortunately, the comments are not from the Canadian government, nor from any of the international agencies charged of late with the responsibility of superintending and disturbing what hitherto has been the legitimate practice of avoiding the payment of high rates of tax by the medium of tax planning.
Yet the remarks are worrisome, because they emanate from Canada and have been made by a trade union leader, who has attracted the support of a number of “voices” said to be in support of the criticism that Barbados is a tax hideaway for rich Canadians.
Latterly, The Bahamas and The Caymans have been included because Barbados lost its unique tax treaty advantage, and must now compete on an even playing field for Canadian investment. And, it cannot have been lost on local authorities that there is enormous competition for international tax dollars looking for a place where the tax structures are more attractive than in their home jurisdictions.
We have no doubt that many of the Canadian companies doing business offshore are the more financially secure because of the efficiencies of their organizational structures, including their offshore subsidiaries.
And herein lies the point that we cannot, indeed dare not, miss; and that is that we have to stay ahead of the competition, making sure our jurisdiction continues to command the serious attention of multinational companies looking to utilize what this country has to offer, as an aspect of lawful business planning.
We have chosen a niche in the market – an anti-double taxation treaty network – which we must keep developing. We are not shady jurisdiction. Shady jurisdictions do not do as we have: established treaty networks with disclosure provisions long before the OECD and others required tax information exchange agreements as part of the qualifying process of a clean jurisdiction.
Encouragement to press on with establishing a high quality sector came on the same day that Canadian criticism surfaced. Forbes, the internationally respected business publication, gave our island the highest rating of any Caribbean destination as a place to do business.
This welcome and prestigious commendation must be married to excellence of service and high class technical expertise and marketing, to achieve our true potential as a top class place in which to do international businesss.
In the highly competitive atmosphere in which business is done we must protect every inch of the turf we have already secured, while steadily expanding. Market vigilance must therefore be our watchword.