EDITORIAL: We need the foreign investors
The recent budget has attracted some criticism about what some are calling the non-specific nature of some of the measures. While there may be some merit in those arguments, we are not prepared to dwell on those issues at this stage. Rather, it seems indisputably clear that some effort was made by the Minister to posit measures that would assist in the further promotion of the international business sector.
In this respect we think that the Minister is on the right track since international business as a sector in its own right can quickly generate jobs, provide much needed foreign exchange and is a necessary and useful adjunct to the tourism effort.
In fact by mandating that the annual general meetings of offshore companies registered here, be held in this island, we have a built-in marketing tool for some of the wealthier tourists who may now be able to combine business with pleasure especially if the meetings are held during the winter months.
For many a year the offshore sector has heard a number of complaints from high net worth individuals that there were too many hassles in obtaining permission to live and work within this country, notwithstanding their large investments here on the West Coast particularly but also in some other parts of the country.
It makes little sense encouraging such individuals to place their companies here and then have the problem of trying to get the requisite permission to live and necessarily work here in keeping track of their investments and other business affairs.
But we cannot blow hot and cold as we appear to have been doing in trying to attract such investment in the past, and a more holistic approach to international financial business must be the order of the day.
It cannot for example make sense to encourage wealthy types to work and or retire here and then to criticize the consequential upper class developments in the island both on the coasts and inland, as promoting the concept of two Barbadoses, because implied in that description is a pejorative connotation that we do not welcome and do not want such developments and their investors in our midst.
Properly understood, expatriates living among us contribute in many ways to the development of this country and though the country may be made up of several different sectors, it is one Barbados that we are developing as a viable place to invest, live and work, and retire and Barbadians and foreigners alike have critical roles to play in that development.
This is a time to face reality and for all of us to become sensible about foreign investment in this place. Some years ago we allowed all kinds of silly talk about cadavers to chase an offshore university from our shores; and St George’s University now brings immense benefits to our sister island of Grenada. Therein lies a major lesson for us.