Minister of State in Foreign Trade and Business, Sandra Husbands, has underscored the importance of the Beneficial Ownership Register, saying it is necessary at this time.
Ms. Husbands made the comments today, as she addressed the media launch of Global Business Week 2022, at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados. The Week will be held from October 23 to 29, under the theme: Adapt – Evolve -Execute – Be the Change.
In speaking about the Beneficial Ownership Register, the Minister said: “This decision has by no means been hastily taken, and in fact, has been the subject in many international fora for some time. This is because the ability to effectively monitor companies’ obligations to maintain beneficial ownership information at the registered office has been a source of concern of both the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force.
“Over the years, the regulatory authorities have tried to implement different systems to prove [their] effectiveness as regulators in ensuring that this information is being kept, but to date, none have proven to be effective. We must recognise the time to pivot. The Beneficial Ownership Register will allow us to demonstrate to international regulatory agencies that Barbados is able to access beneficial ownership information for all entities on its register in a timely manner.”
Ms. Husbands told her audience the vision of the International Business Unit (IBU) is for Barbados to be the international financial services centre of choice in the Western Hemisphere by 2026, and the global hub of choice by 2030.
She added that for this to become a reality, “change is critical”. She proffered the view that the ability to adapt and pivot as necessary in a timely fashion must become a reflex action. “Innovation, technology and the inclusion of the entrepreneurial class must be at the heart of all that we undertake,” she stressed.
According to the Minister, during the past year and a half, significant progress had been made by the Office of Corporate Affairs and the IBU with regard to the digitising of processes designed to facilitate the submission of online applications and payments.
Ms. Husbands pointed out that on June 30, 2022, the IBU launched the first phase of its Business Licensing Integrated Secure System (BLISS) to facilitate the submission and processing of all applications. She disclosed that phase two would be released at the end of November 2022, and it would contain certain enhanced functions.
“It is envisaged that by 2023, the digital Corporate Registry and the BLISS will be integrated to make for more seamless back office collaboration between the core agencies, which must redound to enhanced service offerings, quicker turnaround times, and an overall greater ease of doing business for all end-users, which makes for the increased competitiveness of the global business sector and Barbados as a global hub for business.
“All across Government and the private sector, this move to provide online services has been trending, triggered by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the constraints imposed by the need to social distance. This will undoubtedly continue, and we must equip ourselves to manage the imperatives that come with operating in an online space, be they increased security, routine upgrades and the like,” Ms. Husbands stated.
She commended BIBA, Invest Barbados and the stakeholders for hosting Global Business Week, saying it would give officials the chance to look critically at where they were and examine opportunities for growth.