New President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Ms Melanie Jones refers to the international business sector as “highly effective machinery by which Barbados can pump vital “hard” currency into the economy, with very little leakage.” She adds: “Fortunately this industry does not need to devour large quantities of our precious foreign reserves in order to create and deploy its products and services. Yet presently it brings to Barbados almost $900 million annually in foreign exchange; and this number could go up dramatically if we unleash the jurisdiction’s potential by making it easy to do business in Barbados.”
Ms. Jones, who was elected at this year’s BIBA annual general meeting on June 21, noted that foreign exchange revenues are directly tied to our success in winning global market share, which in turn depends entirely on our competitiveness. She said “We do enjoy one or two clear advantages over our competitors; but our competitors are a nimble and aggressive crowd and the strongest have executed upon enhancements, precisely where we are deficient, in the business facilitation arena.” She added that BIBA has long been lobbying for positive change in this regard and that she considered an ongoing focus on business facilitation to be an imperative.
Ms. Jones, a partner at Lex Caribbean with 20 years experience as an international business lawyer in London, Cayman, Trinidad and Barbados, emphasized that for BIBA a collaborative approach, in which all participants embrace accountability, is key. She expressed BIBA’s enthusiasm for its continuing work with Government, the civil service and various stakeholders to improve business efficacy through enhanced legislation, right-sized regulation, modern IT systems and enlightened, pro-consumer service delivery.
Ms. Jones mentioned that BIBA was keen to partner more closely with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) on areas of mutual concern, including the burning issue of business facilitation which is equally relevant to the conduct of both local and international business. She welcomed BCCI’s recent expression of commitment in this regard at their 185th Anniversary luncheon. She also stressed the importance of joint initiatives among BIBA and professional associations such as the Barbados Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados on technical projects where the pooling of intellectual capital made eminent sense. Ms. Jones also lauded the indefatigable efforts of Invest Barbados and affirmed BIBA’s ongoing commitment to collaboration with them.
The new president also spoke of BIBA’s public education priorities. She said: “we Barbadians are a well educated and capable people. If we are exposed to an unflinching, unbiased analysis of the facts and circumstances which influence our destiny, we are far better equipped to shape that destiny. Barbadians have the right to know how critical a role international business plays and can yet play in the survival and growth of the Barbadian economy. They have the right to know that against the backdrop of a persistent and grueling global economic recession, international business is one of the few business sectors which can expand exponentially to offer many more Barbadians opportunities which are scarce elsewhere. A focus this year for BIBA will be to engage with stakeholders, Government and the public to ventilate issues relating to the vital economic contribution made by the international business sector and its inherent power to raise standards of living for a wide cross section of Barbadians.” She noted that this engagement will be undertaken by BIBA with ongoing and sustained action throughout the year and further highlighted during the fourth staging of International Business Week, planned for October.