From Friday, August 2, residents of Barbados will be able to hold foreign currency accounts.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, made this announcement during a post-Cabinet press conference at Government Headquarters on Thursday.
He was joined by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott.
Mr. Straughn said the funds deposited into these foreign currency accounts cannot be purchased from the local domestic access to foreign exchange.
“[It is] for persons doing business and who may have investments abroad, [to give them] the ability to hold as a safe place with respect to that foreign exchange….”
He added that while previously foreign exchange accounts had a 70 per cent surrender value, government was in the process of putting a framework in place to eliminate that as a signal to the country that it wanted persons to utilize the accounts to conduct their business.
Mr. Straughn said government also sought to increase the personal allowance with respect to travel facilities for individuals, which was previously at $7,500 annually.
“That is going to be increased to BDS$20,000 with respect to persons wishing to travel,” he stated, noting that government wanted to signal to the people that normal service in Barbados had resumed.
“We want to give citizens the assurance that whether you go away on holiday, or to visit family overseas or for medical treatment or whatever access to foreign exchange is there, but it has to be done in an orderly fashion,” he said, noting the environment was now more regulated and it was government’s intention to attract foreign exchange into the country.
In addition, the minister further noted that the Public Finance Management Bill passed in Parliament earlier this year was set to be proclaimed on Monday, July 29.
“This seeks to bring significant order to the management of public finances in Barbados, both at the central government level and at the state-owned enterprises. That Bill sets out the responsibilities for the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Finance, and the various ministers in charge of the state-owned enterprises, along with the permanent secretaries, the board of directors …with respect to the management of public finances,” he said, noting it would also enforce discipline in the management of government’s accounts going forward.