President’s Update delivered by Ms. Connie Smith, President of BIBA, at the January 2015 BIBA Luncheon Seminar, Hilton Barbados, Needham’s Point, St. Michael
Protocol having been established, Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentleman, it gives me great pleasure to have so many of you join us this afternoon at our first Luncheon Seminar for 2015. This marks our first collaborative seminar with The Barbados Bankers Association and we look forward to many such cooperative initiatives in the future. At BIBA, we know there are many cross-cutting issues that affect both the international and domestic business sectors equally and we continue to seek to provide opportunities where these issues can be ventilated and solutions arrived at in a mutually beneficial way. This afternoon we are here to facilitate an exchange of views on commercial banking as we work together to ensure that the private sector is also contributing to improving the ease of doing business in Barbados.
Before we launch into the meat of the matter, please indulge me for a few minutes as I update you on recent undertakings by BIBA.
· This past Tuesday, a BIBA delegation met with the Minister of Finance and the Commissioner of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), Ms. Margaret Sivers, to discuss a number of pressing issues affecting the international business sector. One of the matters on which we engaged them was the difficulty faced under the former Inland Revenue Department in having outstanding tax refunds owed to dissolved subsidiaries remitted to their parent companies. We are pleased to advise that the BRA has promised to establish a methodology for making these payments.
· We are also satisfied that the Commissioner is committed to resolving the indebtedness to our companies in terms of outstanding Value Added Tax and Corporate Tax refunds as the BRA’s cash flow situation permits.
· The Commissioner has also asked me to let you know that if any of you had previously submitted requests, for example a decision on a matter, she has asked that you resubmit your requests to the new BRA email address. The old mailboxes are choc full and while they are wading through them, this is appreciably taking some time.
· In a recent meeting with the Minister of International Business, the Hon. Donville Inniss, we also raised challenges related to income tax concessions for expatriate staff in the sector. At the Minister’s request, BIBA is compiling a business case for maintaining these concessions so that we can continue to attract the international skills and talents required in and for Barbados as we build out our knowledge transfer base. We had also discussed with the Minister the difficulties being experienced in the granting of Special Entry and Reside Permits to High Net Worth Individuals and their families. As a result, a meeting is being convened with Minister Inniss, Senator The Hon. Darcy Boyce, Invest Barbados, the Chief Immigration Officer, and BIBA to resolve this matter.
· BIBA also made recommendations to Minister Inniss regarding the addition of a representative from BIBA to the Barbados Treaty Negotiation Team.
This recommendation was favourably received by the Minister and a Cabinet Paper is to be drafted to support this change.
· We are also pleased to be able to update you on some legislative developments. A draft of the proposed Limited Liability Partnership legislation was received from the Ministry of International Business for review. Our Legal Profession Committee, along with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, and the Barbados Bar Association, have all provided extensive feedback on this draft, which is being conveyed to the Ministry. The Incorporated Cell Companies legislation proposed by BIBA is now in the process of being drafted by the Chief Parliamentary Council’s (CPC) office. The CPC and the Ministry of International Business are also still reviewing the International Trust and Corporate Service Providers legislation to take into account objections that BIBA had made to some provisions of the draft Bill.
I thank you for your attention and now, let’s move along to the main item on today’s agenda.
The members of the panel are here as our guests to update us on the dynamic and oftentimes challenging environment that not only we see as challenging, but I am sure that they do as well. We hope to have a very strategic, unemotional discussion on the changing ecosystem and the way in which we can navigate the challenges while still achieving Barbados’ and our own firms’ strategic objectives. This is not intended to be a forum to deal with any individual or specific client situation.
Let me encourage you to meet separately with the bankers afterwards on those issues.
And with that, I ask you to welcome to the podium, our First Vice President, Mr. Andrew Alleyne, who will moderate the proceeding presentations and discussion.