“'Holes' in strategic business plan”

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Government’s new blueprint to transform the international business sector between now and 2019 has some holes.

A review by the Barbados International Business Association’s (BIBA) tax committee has concluded that the 30-page Strategic Plan For The International Business Sector 2014-2019 was “too ambitious” and lacking key information.

The plan recently released by the Ministry of Industry, International Business Commerce and Small Business Development targeted the creation of 1 000 jobs and substantial increases in foreign exchange and revenues from the international business sector with the next five years.

Government was also seeking to register 2 000 new international business companies, conclude 20 new taxation treaties and 15 investment treaties and secure new airlift from Panama in that time.

This was in addition to achieving a 30 per cent increase in foreign exchange earnings by the end of December 2019, and a 30 per cent increase in revenues from taxation and other services by the end of the December 2019.

However the BIBA committee headed by Dominique Pepin of Ersnt & Young said after meeting and analysing the plan, several shortcomings were found.

This included “the fact that no milestones were indicated nor was anyone within the agencies/organisations identified as accountable for each action item”.

“The plans seem too ambitious and included targets based on legislation not yet proclaimed”, “no mention of any additional resources to be allocated to the various agencies/organisations to permit them to achieve this plan”, “no action items were set for Inland Revenue, Immigration, [Corporation Affairs and Intellectual Property Office] and the courts, which would all have an important role to play in achieving the goals of this plan”.

Minister of Industry, International Business Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, had said the strategic plan was “the blueprint for the Barbados international business sector to realise its vision of making Barbados the financial and wealth management centre of choice in the Western Hemisphere”.

Director of international business Kaeron Venner said the plan “represents a collaborative effort of the sector’s stakeholders, spearhead by the International Business Division of the Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development”.

“It was developed through extensive consultation with stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Following a sector wide consultation, a task force was set up to discuss those elements that would go into this plan. The salient points were distilled and the final product is this strategic plan which we believe is timely and relevant,” he said.