Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, is calling for ???less talk and more action!???
He threw out this challenge, arguing that the Caribbean must be more proactive in the future when it comes to discussions in relation to the state of the International Business and the Financial Services Sector (IBFS) and tax related issues.??
Mr. Inniss shared his views as he addressed the third Caribbean Conference on the International Financial Services Sector in Nassau, The Bahamas, last Tuesday.
He said: ???After decades of being involved in International Financial Services, the region is now being forced to communicate internally and to co-operate. It is regrettable that in some respects this is seen as a response to pressure being applied from outside, but nevertheless, we are here now and must not waste time or cry over spilt milk. There is much to be done and little time to do it in.???
Emphasising that change has to occur at the top, Mr. Inniss called on regional, political and economic leaders to make a greater effort to consider the importance of financial services to ???our economies and societies now and in the future???.
He told attendees that while they might understand and appreciate the value of the IBFS sector to the region, as it is estimated to be on average about 17 per cent of regional GDP, he lamented that the rest of the region still needed to appreciate the ???value of this sector???.??
???Most of us jump high at the word of tourism and can readily recite all the pertinent stats on tourism, however erroneous some of them may be. But when it comes to IBFS there is but a murmur! That has to change,??? the Minister declared.
He noted that it was still unbelievable that regional leaders??? meetings had at most a paragraph or two on IBFS, while there were several regional meetings about LIAT every year.
The Business Minister also expressed gratitude to the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Government of The Bahamas for jointly hosting the conference and for taking the charge on critical regional issues, while pointing out that other organisations should take a sabbatical and learn from them.
He, therefore, outlined that ???we need to commit to the establishment and operation of a regional Ministerial dialogue and structure that focuses on Financial Services, within the context of services on the whole or as a standalone,??? while adding that it must carry the same level of authority and seriousness attended to by other key sectors.
He suggested too, that discussions must include not just CARIFORUM members but also the Overseas Dependent Territories.?????We cannot travel to The Bahamas, get all dressed up in our suits, talk, have fine meals and then do not agree on the way forward. We would not have been grateful guests and we certainly would have failed our constituents in the region,??? he opined.