We must work to develop economy
IF WE RETURN to the international business centre it is because of its topicality, its importance to the economy and the way in which it taps into niche tourism of a kind that benefits this country significantly, and which we need to support and attract.
One simply cannot help but pay attention to an industry which provides valuable foreign exchange by way of payment of corporate income tax and other necessary fees and expenses, as well as salaries of a high order to well-qualified Barbadians.
Best of all, it requires relatively little money to support the marketing and other strategies designed to sell the island as an attractive place from which international entities may profitably do their businesses.
Friday past, Minister of International Business Donville Inniss addressed the Institute of Chartered Accountants and gave his audience the assurance that his ministry is doing its best to pass mutual funds legislation. We accept this assurance, but we were also pleased to learn that other equally important legislation is in the pipeline for amendment.
We venture to criticise the pace at which some of these changes are being made. We fully recognise the exigencies of the demands on the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, where these laws are drafted and for the need to study all the implications of changes before enactment.
However, the industry is extraordinarily dynamic and our laws and rules must be on the cutting edge of developments if we are to reap the best benefits.
Many of our people may not realise that a single budget speech delivered in one of the major capitals from which we draw business can torpedo the backbone of our industry unless we are alive to the changes and can quickly counter the adverse impact by early adjustments to our legal framework for such offshore companies.
Constructive criticism apart, we have been tardy as a country in not establishing the international institute of which the minister spoke, and we support wholeheartedly the idea of getting it going.
People make a considerable difference to the success of the industry, and it is well known that the Barbadian graduates from the social science faculty at Cave Hill who have studied management and accounting have done this country proud in their execution of technical work of a high order for many of the high-quality and sophisticated companies operating here.
Current and future governments must commit now to the establishment of the institute, preferably located at Cave Hill. An atmosphere of learning and enquiry is the best place for this institute, where the combination of specialised studies in law, economics and management may provide the kind of intellectual stimulation which is the meat and potatoes of the better exponents of international financial affairs.
An industry that earns us $870 million per year in foreign currency and keeps thousands of able citizens in lucrative high-class and congenial work, as well as provides us with a boost to business traveller niche tourism, deserves serious ministerial attention if only because of our present economic situation.
The minister has talked and while we like what we hear, the country deserves to see early action that matches his lofty words.
We are perfectly capable of developing our industry to the point where we can become the leading treaty functional jurisdiction for international financial business. We must aim for it. Our national economy well-being requires that we do.