Listen to private sector, says tax expert
THE CHALLENGES affecting the offshore financial sector are not going away any time soon, said Globacor Tax Advisors president Paul LeBreux.
And while the tax lawyer said he believed Barbados was in a good position to weather the changing climate, he suggested a few changes should be made in some critical areas.
LeBreux’s suggestions came as he made a presentation on the topic The New Paradigm In International Business: Where Do We Go From Here? at the Barbados International Business Conference 2013 at Hilton Barbados last Thursday. The conference formed a part of the Barbados International Business Association’s International Business Week 2013 activities.
“There is no question offshore financial centres are facing a very strong headwind and I really don’t think this is going to change. Whether that was driven by this great recession, we’ve had the perception . . . that offshore financial centres are taking money away from high tax jurisdictions and that perception is not going to change,” said LeBreux.
He predicted that “a lot of jurisdictions will fall by the wayside [and] a lot of the Caribbean will simply disappear in terms of their financial services”.
The tax advisor identified several areas he said Barbados should pay closer attention to in order to remain a strong offshore financial jurisdiction. Political stability, he said, was one of those critical areas.
He said efforts should also be made to strengthen the regulatory environment and make it “more welcoming”.
“[Government] has to listen to what the private sector has to say. If the private sector stands up and says, ‘we need work permits to be issued a certain way’ and ‘we need business licences to be done a certain way’, that private sector is on the front line and know what they are saying . . . . Until you get to that point, it is going to be truly difficult to truly build Barbados as a power offshore financial centre,” he said, adding that institutions and countries that would continue to do well were the ones who confronted the challenges and “create opportunities” from them.
Other areas LeBreux said Barbados should pay close attention to were embracing and encouraging competition, the removal of red tape, aggressive marketing, the introduction of new products, and becoming more knowledgeable about competitors. He also suggested that while being careful, Barbados should be a little more innovative with legislation.