Barbados’ task is not just to sit, quarrel and complain about what others like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are proposing; rather, it is to look and examine the opportunities.
International Business Minister, Donville Inniss, underscored this point today, as he addressed the consultation with the OECD on Legislative Changes relating to Action 5 and the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
Stating that the OECD facilitators would help to focus on how the country needs to restructure and redefine its international business and financial services sector to be able to “grab hold of the opportunities that are presented”, he urged private and public sector representatives to do the same.
Reflecting on the Base Erosion and Profiting Shifting (BEPS) initiative, Minister Inniss registered his satisfaction that the 15-point Action Plan had created an excellent opportunity for service providers and for the nation.
He noted the march was towards getting businesses of substance and said: “Barbados offers, perhaps, above other jurisdictions and space, an opportunity to attract and retain businesses of substance. And, I am therefore satisfied that once we have all moved in the same direction, the international business and financial services sector will be contributing well in excess of a billion dollars per year to the Barbadian economy within the next two to three years.”
Pointing out that other domiciles would come under immense pressure as they did not possess the structure or human resources to be able to provide the level of substance that the new international business architecture was demanding,
Mr. Inniss said, “We [Barbados] have an abundance of lawyers, accountants, tax specialists, administrators, corporate providers, service providers that we can certainly take on a lot more business here in Barbados.”
However, to do so, the International Business Minister stated that it had to be accompanied by the right regulatory environment and the right kind of legislative products.
He, therefore, urged participants to help determine the kind of regime and changes needed, noting the sessions aimed to move those in the financial services and international business sector to a better understanding of the arena in which Barbados and CARICOM “must play in as long as we decide that we must have an international financial services sector”.
Acknowledging that Barbados and the Caribbean were very serious about addressing the issues, and about becoming a well regulated and active business environment, he said the island was committed to engaging in a regional response and programme that would address international business and services.
And, he called for consultation and engagement at the regional level: “As I keep saying, all of us in the CARICOM region need to come together, discuss the issues and speak and fight with one voice. That is not what has been happening in the past.”
Meanwhile, Director of the Center for Tax Policy and Administration of the OECD, Pascale Saint-Amans, noting that the world had changed with the financial crisis, said this triggered fiscal, social and political crises in most of the economies both in the developing and developed world.
He said, as a result, the perception that there was a need to regulate globalisation had grown and translated into a number of policies.
Acknowledging that these policies were having an impact on small open economies, and were seen as “unfair” or “unwelcomed”, he agreed with Minister Inniss that there was a need to understand the environment.
Praising Government’s involvement in the Global Forum, he said: “If you need to change challenges into opportunities, you need to be ahead of the others. You need to engage.”