Members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) now have a better understanding of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade???s role in facilitating individual and corporate efforts at being productive and competitive.

Senator Maxine McClean made this clear today as she addressed ICAB???s 20th Annual Conference at Hilton Barbados.

Minister McClean noted that her Ministry was ???tasked with piloting the efforts of Barbados to operationalise Government???s vision of a Barbados that is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterised by good governance???.

Adding that the Ministry worked to coordinate Barbados??? relations with foreign governments, regional and international organisations and represented the interests of Barbadians wherever they are, she said: ???Thus, an important area of focus for us is Barbadians in the Diaspora and that holds significant opportunities even for you as professionals.???

The over 300 participants were told that the objective was to protect and promote the image and reputation abroad; the values and economic interests of Barbados and Barbadians, while creating and sustaining an environment in all its dimensions ??? economic, social, physical and political. ???We do this to afford citizens and commercial entities the greatest scope to be productive and truly competitive,??? Ms. McClean said.

Referring to the role and importance of foreign policy in economic development, she said Barbados was seen as one of the most stable locations in the world for business, notwithstanding the ratings in relation to the ease of doing business.

???The island benefits from a long tradition of political and social stability, a highly skilled and productive workforce, sophisticated international telecommunication services and superior infrastructure and Barbados is fast becoming a preferred low tax destination for international businesses and has attracted several such businesses in manufacturing financial services,??? the Foreign Affairs Minister stated.

ICAB members also heard that many of these businesses had found the legal, financial and accounting services offered by local Barbadian companies ???to be world class???.

???And, of course the Barbados Government focuses heavily on improving the investment climate and on enhancing the infrastructure to support the increasing business activity. And that, of course, is how Barbados is sold to the rest of the world by Invest Barbados.

???The task, therefore, for you as professional service providers, not only to the international business sector, but to all business sectors around Barbados, the region and globally, [is] to recognise that that is, or should be your mantra,??? stressed Senator McClean.

Similar statements were made in relation to the role of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) and Senator McClean said the island had actively pursued its designation as an international business centre negotiating dozens of taxation agreements and passing several pieces of legislation designed to create an attractive business environment for a range of companies.

She concluded by noting that Barbados??? business environment continued to be competitive and investor friendly. ???Notwithstanding, the challenges we face, this continues to be the reputation that Barbados has,??? she said.

ICAB was congratulated for its commitment to lifelong learning, which the Minister said was the hallmark of a true professional. Adding that its theme: Moving Forward ??? Productivity & Competitiveness, Keys to Our Future, was significant, she said it identified and reflected not only the attitude and tools by all key stakeholders in the quest to ensure economic and societal success, but also ???the posture that the country must take as a small island developing state???.

President of ICAB, David Simpson, in his address, urged members to take pride in their jobs, responsibilities and the country as a whole, in order to foster the productivity levels, so greatly required.

Noting that as professionals, action must be taken to bring about ???real change???, he suggested three key areas in which change was required. These were listed as the perception of ourselves as a nation; acknowledgement of the task at hand and willingness to take responsibility for directing our country and place urgency in the actions we take more than before.

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