??Minister of International Business, George Hutson.??

Efforts are on stream to overhaul the supervision and regulatory framework of the island’s non-banking financial sector, through the establishment of the much -touted Financial Services Commission (FSC).

Word of this has come from Minister of International Business, George Hutson, who said the appropriate legislation to give effect to the FSC should be ready by the fourth quarter of the financial year, and the physical facility in place and operational, by June next year.

His disclosure came this morning, as he addressed an Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados’ (ICAB) continuing professional development seminar on the topic: ???An Update on International Financial Services in Barbados in a Changing World Environment’ at Hilton Barbados.

Noting that the FSC would provide for a more comprehensive and enhanced supervision of the non-banking financial sector, while leading to greater harmonisation and integration of international business activities, Minister Hutson observed that major international business and financial centres such as the United Kingdom, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands had also established similar Financial Service Authorities (FSAs).

"Whilst it is important that Barbados maintains its reputation as a well regulated jurisdiction, we must be careful to ensure that the regulatory environment helps rather than hinders business development. Clearly, we should not dilute our commitment to high regulatory standards, but rather, ensure that a balanced approach to the development of new regulations and the facilitating of new business development is adopted," he maintained.

In commenting on the proposed establishment of the FSC, Director of International Business, Francoise Hendy, said it would help to create economies of scale, in terms of providing information on which businesses were on the ground and which sectors they were involved in. Noting that the FSC would essentially govern all non-banking regulatory issues, Ms. Hendy stressed that its presence would also serve as a good marketing tool for Barbados as a jurisdiction.

Reflecting on the global economic downturn and its effects, Minister Hutson underscored the need for accounting professionals to remain in line with international rules and regulations and yet remain competitive.

"Crises like these serve to reinforce the fact that the international character of financial services implies that we need to remain in touch with the changing standards, maintain internationally-recognised certification and be open to technological advancement within our profession," he contended.

The Minister lauded ICAB for hosting seminars of this nature, since, according to him, they provided professionals with an opportunity to add value to their skills; to better respond to the challenges of the "ever-changing business environment and to network with industry peers on topics of vital interest to the sector. cgaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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