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Foreign business sector lacking, says Arthur

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Foreign business sector lacking, says Arthur

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BARBADOS?is nowhere near to realizing its full potential from the international business sector.
That’s the view of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who thinks that Barbados as compared to competitors such as Bermuda, has merely scratched the surface of this sector.
The Opposition Member of Parliament for St Peter was speaking Wednesday night in the House of Assembly on the Estimates of Revenue And Expenditure.
He said the sector had a curious allocation of responsibilities where the responsibility for policy is in one ministry while the institution responsible for implementation is in another. “In 1994, international business was located in the ministry of finance, there wasn’t a ministry of international business. When the Democratic Labour Party came back to office in 2008, they relocated part of international business in the ministry of finance under the minister of state and it has followed him.
“I believe that the kind of problems that you have had in moving from policy formation to implementation are not going to be easily addressed, unless that issue is solved,” he said.Arthur, 63, the longest serving current MP, told the chamber that the sector required nimbleness in legislation and policy direction.
He said the challenges this country was facing in the sector were multiplying and will continue to multiply. Arthur said the challenges required a coherent response which was not being presented.
He said that Barbados has to start to give enterprises a reason to locate and to expand here.
“Issues which were not important in the past become important now if we are to stabilise the sector and expand it. Matters pertaining to the ease and cost of doing business in Barbados become important,” he said.
Arthur said he was disappointed that Barbados was no longer supporting the internationally recognised Doing Business Survey in which economies are ranked on their ease of doing business.
He said that Barbados had not participated in the survey since 2007 and no longer knows where it stands in relation to its competitors.
Arthur said there was a false concept that the international business and financial sector must be based on the importation of capital. He said there was a need for Barbados to create a class of international businessmen and service providers who are indigenous in origin “and who see first of all the Caribbean and then, the rest of the world as their oyster.”
He said the development of the sector cannot just be about attracting enterprise to this country but about developing service developers to be able to sell their services to the rest of the world. (MK)