American University of Barbados to Expand its Operations
The American University of Barbados (AUB) has purchased the BET building in Wildey, St. Michael, and will soon be expanding its operations here. Education Minister, Ronald Jones, briefing the media on the progress of the AUB here and their recent acquisition of the property said recently at the Elsie Payne Complex: “We thought that we would share good news…as you know the American University of Barbados is just five years old; [it] started in Wildey in one of the smaller spaces, and has gone from there to be located at Landsdown, Silver Sands.” He added: “We have walked with the AUB…. It was the first external medical institution to be established in Barbados, and so we have walked with them and they have in fact responded quite well, both in the expansion of numbers and in the quality of their programmes, and in the recruitment of both domestic and foreign medical tutors, professors and lecturers, and that has augured well for the interest being generated now across many spaces of the world.” He explained that with the most recent recognition of Barbados as a centre where American students could get federal loans and grants, any medical institution in Barbados would be able to benefit from those students coming to them. “So, that too was and is a signal honour. Cave Hill was a beneficiary of that as well, and AUB, once they are able to maintain this very high standard would also be a beneficiary of that. It is conferred upon a country and not just an individual or an entity. So, that is important,” Mr. Jones said. It was further noted that several students were now off island training in their clinicals and rotations, and very soon Barbados would have its first set of graduates from the AUB. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, reflected on the many hours spent trying to determine how Barbados could recapture and improve the position the island once had in the Caribbean as a place for regional education, educational tourism and a significant earner of foreign exchange and a creator of jobs. He expressed pleasure at the fact that the recent purchase was orchestrated in a timely fashion, and said: “This transaction is very important to us because of the significant growth that it represents…because it cements our relationship with a major country [India] in the world, … a country which is going to be much more significant in the scheme of world affairs.” Principal of the AUB, Meesam Ali Khan, in thanking the Ministers, said by investing in the newly acquired property, they were assuring Barbadians that AUB would be here for a long time. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Stuart: Barbados Has Made Great Strides
Barbados has justified its decision in 1966 to seek independence. This view was shared on Wednesday by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed a host of distinguished guests at the Toast to the Nation at St. Ann’s Fort. Among those in attendance were His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales; Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave; President of Guyana, David Granger and his wife Sandra; this year’s Independence honourees; members of Cabinet and the Diplomatic Corps; Barbadian superstar, Rihanna; and Barbados’ only living National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers. In his address, Mr. Stuart said that over the last 50 years, Barbados had made “significant strides” as a nation state. “At the political level, we have been able to maintain an enviable stability here in this country, at all times ensuring that the rule of law prevailed; that we maintain the independence of the Judiciary, and that we change Governments without too much fuss, fanfare or event,” he stated. This, he observed, was no small feat, as world events showed the difficulties experienced by other nations in registering similar successes. The Prime Minister also noted that at the economic level, Barbados’ economy had been developed and diversified from a focus on sugar to one led by tourism, and in which international business and financial services were playing a significant role. “In addition to that, we are in the process of developing new industries, particularly the renewable energy and cultural industries sectors. And socially, Barbados is today a more inclusive society than at any other time in its history,” he pointed out. During the event, Prince Henry delivered a message on behalf of his grandmother and Barbados’ Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, in which she congratulated the island on reaching its golden jubilee. “Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation. The extraordinary talents of your people, from the cricket field to the music industry, have been admired and recognised throughout the world,’’ the message stated. Her Majesty also noted that Barbados remained a favourite holiday destination for British people, not only for its natural beauty, but because of its citizens’ “warmth and generosity of spirit”. She added that Barbados and Britain had “a shared history, similar values, and an affection that continued to bind us in friendship”. Article compliments BGIS.
Minister Inniss responds to threats to international business
The pressure is mounting on international business and financial services centres as new rules are implemented, but Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has declared that Barbados will not roll over and play dead. He said the country would remain mindful of the “new and emerging environment in which jurisdictions and significant financial centres such as Barbados are required to navigate”, and take the necessary steps to ensure its reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction was maintained. Addressing the 23rd Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, under the theme Barbados at 50: Reaching Beyond This Horizon, Inniss urged those in the sector not to be intimidated by the changes. “We are not daunted, but we must be strategic in our alliances and partnerships . . . as a Government, investors and stakeholders, to ensure the continued growth, health and wellness of this indispensable sector to Barbados and to our national development aspirations,” he said. “You can always expect it to be a moving goal post and . . . I urge you to continue to pay close attention to the writers and guides of your international bodies, as they too wrap their minds around where the conversation is going on issues.” Inniss said matters relating to the G20 call for strengthening of implementation standards on transparency and exchange of information; the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA); and the new focus on beneficial ownership, among other global polices and recommendations, had “profound implications” for Barbados’ international business and financial services sector, as well as accountants. He described the changes as sometimes hostile but very dynamic, adding that “the organization of our human capital resource must undertake formal structures which can stand up to the scrutiny and world-class assessment” in the face of change. Inniss said Barbados would continue to focus on increased transparency, faster turnaround times for processing of applications, and clarity and consistency on policies. “If Barbados loses its reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction then, ladies and gentlemen, we have lost it all. So, there can be no compromising on the importance on the corporate trust and service providers,” the minister urged. “These exogenous challenges provide an impetus on us to implement adaptive strategies that would enhance competitiveness while maintaining a robust regulatory regime within the sector. I share the view that we must now, more than ever, link our business strategy to our supervisory and regulatory strategy in order to achieve growth and success in this economy and the sector in particular,” he added, noting that some existing synergies should be revisited. He said Barbados would also continue to play close attention to issues relating to anti-money laundering, transparency and tax compliance, given the negative impact the “categorizing of international centres as uncooperative tax havens or any other term that paints a negative picture of a jurisdiction” could have on the island. “We remain committed to engaging in the international fora on these myriad of issues,” said Inniss. He said while Barbados continued to make progress in being fully compliant with international best practices, a lot of work still needed to be done in the implementation of a common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of information. Inniss said it was now official that Barbados’ overall rating on the implementation of standards on the exchange of information was upgraded by the global forum, from partially compliant to largely compliant.
International Business Week Conference Another Success
This year’s International Business Week Conference, held recently at the Hilton Barbados Resort, has once again been described as a success. The flagship conference is held each year during the Barbados International Business Week of activities. Organised by Invest Barbados, in collaboration with the Barbados International Business Association and other strategic partners, the event targeted local and international industry professionals, including accountants, attorneys, bankers, insurance and tax advisors, wealth advisors and other business executives, as well as representatives from various government agencies. The conference, held under the theme: Weathering the Perfect Storm: Explore, Evolve & Adapt, attracted 200 attendees. During the featured address, which was delivered by Hon. Donville Inniss, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, he highlighted a number of areas in which the sector had made progress over the last year. Among these included the proclamation of the Foundations Act, 2013-5, the introduction of the Incorporated Cell legislation and Barbados’ signing of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement. Minister Inniss noted however, that although the sector was clearly “exploring, evolving and adapting”, there was still quite a bit of work to be done across both the public and private sectors. “… The time is now for there to be that clarion call – a reminder of the need for all of us, as stakeholders, to band together and display that strength and resilience that Barbados is known for. More importantly, we need to implement those creative, feasible and sustainable solutions that will see us moving forward together. For this, I submit, is the only practical way that we can grow, improve and reach greater heights, over the long term.” The Minister also reiterated that, “despite the various challenges it may face, Barbados’ international business and financial services sector continues to play a significant role in the economic and social development of our country.” The varied topics, which mostly reflected the conference theme, while identifying and addressing the current issues impacting international financial centres, were delivered by a cadre of expert speakers from Barbados, Canada, Cayman Islands, the UK and the USA. Among them were Ms. Alison Manzer, Partner, Cassels Brock Lawyers; Mr. Gabriel Abed, Co-Founder and CEO, Bitt.com; Prof. Avinash Persaud, Chairman, Intelligence Capital Ltd; Mr. Neil Monhindra, Public Policy Consultant and Freelance Writer; Mr. Sanjay Joshi, Head of Fixed Income, London & Capital, Dr. Don Marshall, Director, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, UWI and Mr. Micho Schumann, Principal, KPMG Cayman. Over the one and a half days, attendees were also able to view various sponsor exhibits and network with their peers. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Barbados On Par with International Tax Practices
Barbados continues to put the necessary measures in place that will enable the country’s cooperation in international tax processes. This assertion was made by the island’s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, during the recently held opening of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators’ 37th Annual Technical Conference in Barbados. He told his audience: “I can say upfront that Barbados’ record of cooperation with international processes in tax regulation and transparency has been exemplary. I certainly do believe that by and large, for most of our regional colleagues, the same can be said as well. “It is true that while levels of engagement and intervention may differ across jurisdictions, this is more to do with the asymmetries that exist across countries relative to human resource and financial capacity than it does to a willingness of Governments to cooperate and lead on these matters.” The Minister of Finance said that over the past 15 years, Barbados had upgraded its legislative and administrative functions to not only comply with new and evolving norms for tax regulation and transparency, but to build a far more efficient and proficient tax administration system. “I am confident that we have, or are well on our way to achieving both of these objectives,” he assured. Mr. Sinckler told the delegates that they were no doubt familiar with Barbados’ “forceful push back” in relation to the early incursions of the OECD harmful tax practices matter, the US-driven FATCA law and this country’s successful efforts to become compliant with its demands, and the current fighting of the potentially debilitating corresponding banking/de-risking process. “In all respects, Barbados has modernised its legislation, upgraded its policy framework and broadened its network of partners across several countries and tax administrations to ensure that we not just secure our national space, but build firewalls against tax avoidance, money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other illicit activities,” he reiterated. The Minister pointed out that as recently as last month the OECD upgraded Barbados’ status to largely compliant with the requirements of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. He added that this country has been building an international tax jurisdiction that was stable, transparent and cooperative with international norms. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Banknotes Amid Currency Meltdown
Venezuela is to issue larger denomination banknotes as soaring triple-digit inflation and a currency in freefall reduces the worth of the country’s largest existing bill to around two US cents on the black market. Six new banknotes ranging from 500 to 20,000 Bolivars will begin circulating on December 15, according to the central bank. At present, the largest-denominated bill is 100 Bolivars which is worth just a few US cents. Given that a two-litre soft drink can cost 25 times that much, shoppers are said to need backpacks just to carry the cash for their purchases. The new bills will have a similar design to the notes currently in circulation but will have different colours. Venezuela’s currency lost 67 percent of its value on the black market last month, falling to 4,587 bolivars per US dollar – the steepest monthly plunge ever, according to data by Dollar Today, which tracks the black market rate by monitoring transactions with the currency at foreign exchange houses across the border in Colombia. Runaway inflation, believed to be the highest in the world, is expected to surpass four digits next year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Caracas hasn’t published price data since 2015. Making matters worse, cash has become virtually unavailable, with ATM withdrawals capped at an extremely low amount and, on Friday, the nation’s credit card payment system unexpectedly stopped functioning for several hours. President Nicolas Maduro blamed the malfunction on a “cyberattack”, and ordered the Sebin intelligence service to raid the offices of CrediCard which processes payment for Visa and MasterCard. He’s also accused “mafias” in neighbouring Colombia of trying to carry out an “economic coup” against his socialist-run economy. “The right wing wants to impose on Venezuela a parallel exchange rate from an account in Miami, and from that account take the dollar to a disastrously crazy level,” Maduro said in a televised address announcing the rollout of the new bills. The South American socialist country has maintained strict currency controls since 2003 and currently has two legal exchange rates of 10 and 663 Bolivars per dollar used for priority imports. On the black market, where people and businesses turn when they can’t obtain government approval to purchase dollars at the legal rates, the Bolivar has collapsed by a factor of five over the past year. The currency meltdown comes amid what should’ve been a rare bout of good economic news for Venezuela after OPEC last week bowed to months of pressure from Maduro and other oil-dependent nations and decided to cut production levels for the first time since 2008. Crude prices rallied the most in five years as a result. Article compliments Caribbean360.com
Caribbean SMEs to Benefit from Entrepreneurial Asset & Commercialisation Project
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Caribbean region are to benefit from a technical cooperation project that will enable them to generate wealth from their intellectual entrepreneurial assets (IEA). Dubbed Regional Entrepreneurial Asset and Commercialization Hub (REACH), the project will provide capacity building, training and mentorship in technology commercialisation; creative industries intellectual asset management; and product branding value capturing. Jamaica’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Reginald Budhan, speaking at the official launch of REACH at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston, said the project will: provide an enabling environment to support the commercialisation and monetisation of the creative industries and intellectual assets in Jamaica and the wider region; bring needed support to entrepreneurs and innovators; and help to boost Intellectual Property (IP) investments in the region. Budhan said the initiative provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to unite and take full advantage of the untapped intellectual property resources throughout the region. He noted that Jamaica, for example, has vast creative capacity that remains largely underutilised. He mentioned that in 2004, the International Intellectual Property Institute reported that from the US$1 billion generated from reggae, including retail sales, copyrighted music and retail merchandising, Jamaica only earned US $1.4 million. “This large gap indicates that there is strong potential for Caribbean countries to capture more of the total market value,” he said, adding that there is uge demand for monetising innovations through improved management of IEAs. Budhan noted that in 2010, the Bank of Jamaica reported that Jamaica earned US$23.8 million from cultural services, which is more than the earnings from services in finance, business, insurance and construction combined. The Bank noted that reggae icons like Sean Paul and Shaggy earned more annually than Jamaica’s banana industry. Budhan said in spite of these impressive results, Jamaica and the Caribbean remain significantly challenged in increasing the contribution of the cultural industries to sustainable development due to a myriad of reasons. These include the lack of strategic and focused management, limited financial resources, insufficient market intelligence and branding, poor linkages with the local tourism industry, and weak data collection. A business lab component of REACH is scheduled to begin in February 2017 and will equip delegates to run successful businesses and to transform their ideas into viable enterprises. Article compliments Caribbean360.com
IMF And Jamaica Agree On New Three-Year Programme
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a three-year Stand-By Arrangement for Jamaica geared towards raising living standards and boosting employment. The US$1.64 billion will replace the existing Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which was scheduled to expire in March 2017. The Fund said approximately $411.9 million will be made immediately available and the remainder will be provided in six tranches upon completion of semi-annual program reviews. According to the IMF, Jamaican authorities have indicated they do not intend to draw down on the new SBA, but will treat it as “insurance against unforeseen adverse external economic shocks.” In announcing the new deal, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Tao Zhang commended the country for achieving key targets under the EFF. “Macroeconomic stability has been entrenched, evidenced by low inflation, the buildup of foreign currency reserves, and a decline in the current account deficit. Fiscal discipline and proactive debt management have helped place public debt on a downward trajectory,” he said. He however warned that lingering challenges including low growth, poverty, unemployment and crime. The Washington-based financial body noted growth had only reached 0.8 per cent over the three-year EFF, but improved to 1.4 percent for the first quarter of this year, supported by gains in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity generation and tourism. “Growth in FY2016/17 is expected to reach 1.7 percent in FY16/17. Business confidence is strong and Jamaica’s international bonds are trading close to the average rate of other emerging markets. Unemployment is still high at 13.7 percent in April 2016, which partly reflects an increase in labor force participation,” the IMF said. It noted that the objectives of the new programme included more support for job creation, improving public sector efficiency, strengthening the social safety net and reduce public debt to 60 per cent of GDP by 2025/2026 by maintaining primary surplus at seven percent of GDP for the duration of the new arrangement. Article compliments Caribbean 360.com
OECD officials outline international tax initiatives, country-by-country reporting guidance released
OECD officials, during a December 5 webcast, discussed OECD international tax work, including just-released guidance implementing the OECD/G20 base erosion profit shifting (BEPS) plan country-by-country reporting standards, reports MNE TAX. The discussion also covered the G20’s tax agenda, the BEPS multilateral instrument, the status of OECD drafts on profit splits and attribution of profits to permanent establishments, and peer review of the BEPS minimum standards. Achim Pross, Head of the International Co-operation and Tax at the OECD, said that country-by-country reporting guidance, released today, consolidates into one document existing OECD guidance on transitional issues, released last June, and the updated guidance on country-by-country reporting, issued last December. One new aspect of the guidance is that it clarifies that jurisdictions may extend the due date for MNEs to notify tax administrations regarding which entity in the group is the reporting entity for purposes of country-by-country reporting, Pross said. Pross explained that a number of countries have required MNEs to identify the reporting entity by the end of financial period for which reporting is due, which creates practical difficulties in some instances where competent authority exchange agreements have not yet been put in place. Under the guidance, countries may adopt a different reporting date, for example, the date of filing the tax return or the country-by-country report, or otherwise offer transition relief, Pross said. The new guidance also announces that more countries will allow voluntary parent surrogate filing for fiscal periods beginning on or from January 1, 2016. Countries now permitting such filing are Hong Kong, Japan, Nigeria, and the United States. The guidance reports that Liechtenstein, the Russian Federation, and Switzerland, have issued draft legislation allowing for parent surrogate filing, which still must be approved by the countries’ legislatures. The OECD also today added a new section to its website that provides details on 48 countries’ implementation of the country-by-country reporting standards. The information includes the first fiscal year for which filing is required, whether local filing is required, and whether surrogate filing is allowed. Pross said that more countries will be added and the information will be regularly updated. Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration reported that, so far, 90 countries have joined the BEPS inclusive framework, which is a group of countries that have committed to adopt and promote the implementation of BEPS minimum standards and work on future international tax standards. Saint Amans said that finalization of draft transfer pricing guidance on profit splits and on attribution of profits to permanent establishments has been delayed because some members of the inclusive framework do not agree with some of the concepts in the drafts. “It may be the case that we will not rush, as we thought we would, to conclude these drafts,” Saint Amans said. He added that future work on these topics may not align with the drafts. Saint Amans also reported on discussions held in Berlin during a December 1 meeting of the G20 deputy finance ministers, the first such meeting under the new German presidency. Saint Amans said the German presidency is putting significant focus on issue of tax and digitization. The G20 has asked the OECD to prepare a report for the March 17–18 finance ministers meeting, Saint Amans said, on “what is at stake there, on the work on the task force on the digital economy, and maybe some ideas on the way forward.” Saint Amans said other international tax priorities of the German presidency include implementation of the BEPS minimum standards; tax certainty; tax and development, in particular the establishment of a “tax compact” in Africa;” and tax transparency, with emphasis on the need for countries to meet their obligations on exchange of information on request. Gita Kothari, Senior Legal Advisor at the OECD’s Legal Directorate, discussed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, otherwise known as the multilateral instrument (MLI), released by the OECD on November 23. The MLI is designed to allow countries to swiftly modify their bilateral tax treaties to incorporate the BEPS minimum standards and other BEPS output relating to tax treaties. Kothari said that the MLI will sit on top of and modify existing tax treaties. The MLI is very efficient, Kothari said, as it allows countries to go to their parliament only once to modify many tax treaties. Kothari reported the OECD is now helping countries prepare to sign the MLI. A June 5 signing ceremony is planned, which is expected to draw many countries. After that, countries must work on ratification of the MLI under domestic law, Kothari said. Kothari predicted that a processes similar to the MLI will be used in the future to amend tax treaties. The MLI “may be an important precedent for updating bilateral tax treaties in a synchronized way in order to address an issue where there is broad consensus that coordinated action is required,” Kothari said. Maikel Evers, Advisor at the OECD’s Centre of Tax Policy and Administration, said the OECD is developing a software tool to match MLI provisions selected by countries to amend their bilateral tax treaties. Saint Amans added that a priority for future work is to make certain that the MLI’s operation on tax treaties is clear and transparent to all. Pross said that peer review by the BEPS inclusive framework on countries’ compliance with minimum standards under Action 6 (treaty abuse) will commence after work on the multilateral instrument is complete. Peer review of country-by-country reporting implementation under Action 13 is expected to begin in 2017, he said. He said that there is ongoing assessment of countries’ compliance with BEPS standards on harmful tax practices. “We are in the process of reviewing patent boxes, IP regimes, preferential regimes and the transparency framework [regarding the exchange of tax rulings],” he said. In this regard, the OECD is working closely with the EU Code of Conduct Group, which is conducting a similar review of EU laws, Pross said. Pross said that peer review by the BEPS inclusive framework regarding compliance with BEPS minimum standards on the mutual agreement program (MAP) began today, with the launching of a questionnaire. The first countries to be reviewed are Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States, and Switzerland. Saint Amans called the MAP peer review work a “game changer” that will not only resolve double tax disputes, but prevent them. Saint Amans said that the publicity will put pressure on counties to improve their processes. OECD today also released on its website the MAP statistics of many countries for the 2015 reporting period. “Closing inventories are up by nearly 160 percent [over ten years], clearly indicating that there is a need to do something,” Pross said. Pross added that, for 2016 and beyond, MAP statistics will be published and reported pursuant to a new agreed framework, which will make the data more consistent and provide greater transparency. Article compliments IFC Review.
OECD calls for improved design of funded private pensions
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published a report calling for better design of funded pension arrangements, in particular defined contribution pensions, reports CCH Daily The 2016 OECD Pensions Outlook report analyses how the pensions landscape is changing in the face of challenges that include ageing populations, the fallout from the financial and economic crisis, and the current environment of low economic growth and low returns. The OECD warns that, although funded arrangements have important advantages, they put more of the risks of saving for retirement (e.g. investment and longevity risk) and decision-making in the hands of individuals. Article compliments IFC Review.
Africa’s crackdown on tax avoidance nets £204m
A team of tax experts from Kenya will be deployed to Botswana early next year in the latest round of an initiative that seeks to boost domestic revenue collection to fund national development plans, reports the guardian. The move was announced last week at the second global partnership for effective development cooperation meeting in Nairobi, which brought together representatives of governments, civil society, the private sector and UN officials. The Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) project focuses on tackling tax avoidance by improving local audit capacities, with a particular emphasis on ensuring multinationals conform with local tax laws. James Karanja, head of the TIWB secretariat, said that since the launch of the project in June last year, eight pilot projects in African, Asian and Latin American countries had netted more than $260m (£204m) in additional tax revenue. More than $100m of that was generated through tax audits in Zimbabwe. The programme, which is supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN development programme (UNDP), helps countries to recover revenue from multinationals that had been paying less than their fair share. It also seeks to build local audit capacity and is seen as key to meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals. The African programme is being carried out in partnership with the African Tax Administration Forum. The UN describes domestic resources as “the largest untapped source of financing to fund national development plans”, and has listed support to build capacity of national tax audit systems as a priority. In an interview with the Guardian on the sidelines of the conference, UNDP administrator Helen Clark said the tax auditors programme was part of a new agenda of global partnership that sees aid as “catalytic in supporting countries to be able to leverage other sources of financing. This is a great example of south-south cooperation that has the critical effect of boosting local systems while ensuring international companies that specialise in paying tax to nobody are compliant with local laws and contribute to domestic resource mobilisation.” Clark said so much has changed since representatives of 161 countries endorsed a plan for effective development cooperation in Busan, South Korea, in 2011 that all players needed to be adaptable and come up with new approaches to tackle multiplying crises around the world. “It has been an extraordinary few years,” she said. “[Since 2011] Syria tipped over. Libya, Yemen as well. The crisis in South Sudan broke out, and you had the continued crisis in northern Nigeria as well as Mali. For Syria, the spillover effects of that were felt all the way into Europe, probably playing into Brexit and other developments.” Clark said it was essential for aid to be aimed at seeking long-term solutions by improving local conditions. “You need to go beyond relief to investing in people to improve the circumstances that they find themselves in,” she said. Emergency aid was still vitally important, she added, to avoid millions joining the queue of those displaced, which would make the refugee crisis more difficult to manage. But, citing a visit to Mali, which has struggled to cope with an insurgency that broke out in 2013, she said it was essential to tackle root causes. “People leave because of a lack of opportunity. When I look at all those photos of boats trying to come into Malta or Sicily I’m seeing overwhelmingly young African men of working age – bright-eyed people wanting something real to do.” The former prime minister of New Zealand said opportunities could be provided through legal channels of migration to Europe and through significant investment to improve what she called “positive opportunities” domestically. “A senior UN official told me there are a lot of negative opportunities for youth in Mali. You can join a jihadist group. It pays more than selling wares at traffic lights. You can also join criminal gangs that do everything from trafficking people to drugs and arms. Or you can try to make the crossing into Libya to take a boat into Europe.” Clark said improving local capacity and helping countries to boost domestic revenue streams and other sources of financing would continue to be a focus for the UNDP. The OECD secretary general, Angel Gurría, who also spoke at the conference, hailed the “concrete results” achieved by the TIWB programme and said the initiative would be broadened. Thirteen projects are under way – in Botswana, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. And next year, auditors will be sent to the Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Uganda, Cameroon and Vietnam. Article compliments IFC Review.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (June 24th, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its third Networking Mingle on June 26th, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (April 22nd, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its second Networking Mingle of the year on April 22nd, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (June 24th, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its third Networking Mingle on June 26th, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Mr. Gregory McConnie – President’s Address BIBA Luncheon Seminar July 22, 2016
President’s Address BIBA Luncheon Seminar July 22, 2016 by Mr. Gregory McConnie BIBA President Protocol having being established, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us for our luncheon seminar. It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you this afternoon. I must truly thank Senator the Hon. Darcy Boyce for taking the time out to engage and inform us about the function of his new role, the approaches he intends to employ, as well as receive feedback on the very serious issues affecting the way business is done in Barbados. The topic is a timely one as business facilitation is in our view the most pressing issue to be addressed. We see two main elements to business facilitation, certainty of process and agility. All users of services provided by both the private and public sectors require consistency and certainty of process in order to be able to effectively manage their affairs. This means having timeframes within which transactions are processed and delivering on them, every time. This is particularly important for the international investor where Barbados is competing against other jurisdictions for their business. Barbados must demonstrate that it can meet the high standards of service expected by international business investors and practitioners, and that it can do so consistently if it is to continue to be perceived as a high quality jurisdiction. Agility, the other aspect of business facilitation that is vital to being able to compete effectively for international business, includes initiating and implementing legislative changes and effecting the relevant business process changes in relatively short timeframes after new legislation is passed. While other jurisdictions have been able to implement new initiatives quickly, like the new LLC legislation recently passed in the Cayman Islands and similar legislation planned for Bermuda, in Barbados the Private Trust Companies and Foundations vehicles legislation have been passed but still cannot be utilized and the implementation of Incorporated Cell Company legislation has not been smooth. Our timeframes for execution must be measured in days and weeks rather than months and years. Wherever there is adversity there is generally also opportunity, and amongst the externally imposed challenges arising from BEPS, the Panama Papers and “de-risking” opportunity lies. There is no doubt in my mind that the IB Sector in Barbados can take advantage of these to expand and grow exponentially under the right conditions. However, we need to step up our game if we are to really take advantage of the opportunities available. Just this week the Central Bank of Barbados released its review of Barbados’ economic performance for the first six months of 2016. Part of the review stated that there was a 3 percent decline in the number of international business and financial services (IBFS) licenses granted during the first half of the year. Of course we know that this statistic by itself is not cause for alarm because many new companies doing international business are opting to operate as regular Barbados companies to take advantage of our tax treaties, rather than as licensed entities. However, one of the main statements made by Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell which stood out was that Barbados’ foreign exchange reserves fell by a further $43 million to $884 million. It has fallen consistently over the past 5 years by about 40% from the 2011 levels of $1.4 billion. It should be known by now that the international business sector is the most reliable and consistent earner of foreign exchange for Barbados. This sector contributes has been $1billion to Barbados Gross Domestic Product annually. That is all foreign exchange because this sector earns no revenue from Barbados. Again, there is potential but we need to address business facilitation issues first and we need to address them immediately. Therefore, BIBA welcomes the recent appointment of Senator Boyce to provide that dedicated effort towards reducing, if not eliminating, the difficulties currently being experienced in doing business on this island. In support of Senator Boyce’s business facilitation role, BIBA intends to work collaboratively with the key Government departments to ensure that everyone involved understands the potential that the IB sector holds for Barbados’s growth, while we seek to understand the challenges those departments face when interacting with the private sector and share with them the challenges the private sector encounters, with the intention of working together to develop solutions to the issues identified. As a nation celebrating 50 years of independence we need to commit ourselves to making Barbados the easiest place for doing business in the world. This is not just the responsibility of the government but it should be a national commitment so that every man and woman sees himself or herself as having a responsibility for making this a reality and will approach their work whether it be in the private or public sector with a mindset that says I am helping to generate business activity in my country that will lead to the creation of jobs, and the generation of government revenues that will go towards financing healthcare, education and other social programmes. Thank you for your time and interest.
MR ANDREW ALLEYNE – PRESENTATION AT 2016 IBFS CONFERENCE
International Business and Financial Services Conference Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 WELCOME REMARKS Mr Andrew Alleyne, President of BIBA It gives me great pleasure to join Dr. Worrell and the Hon. Donville Inniss in welcoming you to this year’s International Business and Financial Services Conference. Each year, BIBA is pleased to support the Central Bank of Barbados in its efforts to bring together representatives from both the public and private sectors that are key to the success of this sector, to dialogue and share views on how to further advance our collective goals. The theme for this year’s conference Reflecting on the Past: Planning for the Future, is a timely topic in light of the ongoing celebrations of 50 years of Independence. It is important for us to reflect on the history of the international business and financial services sector and its immense economic and social contribution to the Barbados economy. We will hear more about the sector’s contribution from Mr. Downes later. It is this sector’s level of importance that should drive each and every one of us to continuously examine the business environment, highlight the challenges faced, and work together to find workable solutions. The issue of banks “de-risking” was raised at last year’s conference and has since developed into a major concern for the Caribbean region. The origin of this problem lies within the enacting of new international regulations intended to address money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It also requires international correspondent banks to be satisfied that their “front line” banks are also undertaking the same level of due diligence and that they know their customers. As recently as last week, the United States Comptroller of the Currency (Thomas Curry) announced that OCC may create new guidance to deal with de-risking. In his March 7th speech he said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is collecting data on banks de-risking decision-making processes. He said “Our goal is to identify current practices and possible gaps in existing policies and procedures for conducting periodic client risk evaluations and for making account termination decisions”. While it is too early to speculate if the OCC’s involvement will improve the decision making process, the Agency might require banks to conduct enhanced due diligence tests that require input from Senior Management before breaking ties with a foreign correspondent. To further add fuel to the fire, the Caribbean has been unfairly branded as “high risk” and as a result some of these banks have started to withdraw their correspondent relations to the Caribbean. Look at Belize! The larger banks have already severed relationships with banks there, the first being the Belize Bank, and subsequently other indigenous banks. This forced a closure of several indigenous banks leaving many businesses and individuals without a means to receive or make international payments. Western Union has withdrawn its services in the Bahamas, Cayman and the Turks and Caicos. As a result Fidelity Bank has closed its Western Union accounts in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. Closer to home an Antigua bank, CUB recently lost its correspondent banking support when a US correspondent bank terminated its relationship. In Jamaica, Barclays has advised the Jamaica National Building Society that it will be terminating its correspondent relationship on April 1st. In some instances the decision to withdraw correspondent banking services is based on low business volumes or low revenues. However, the focus on the Caribbean is not based on an objective assessment of the region’s risk, but reflects a lack of understanding of the region by risk managers who are largely unfamiliar with the Caribbean’s high regulatory and compliance standards. Last December, BIBA’s First Vice President, Gregory McConnie, and I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Financial Stability Board, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Central Bank of Barbados. The discussion focused on global initiatives to lower the risks associated with correspondent banking. These included the work international standard setters are undertaking to better measure, understand and address the challenges presented by the reduction of these important banking services. Another issue of concern to all of us is business facilitation. Unlike the withdrawal of correspondent banking services, this is an issue that is within our power to fix. There is now a greater need to improve our country’s ranking in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” index, especially given that the international business sector is losing some of its competitiveness due to new and expanding tax transparency laws and regulations in North America and Europe. On a more positive note, the TMF Complexity Index recently ranked Barbados 7th, in terms of “Ease of doing business” a significant improvement from the precious year when we were ranked 22nd. Within the Americas, Barbados was ranked an impressive 4th as a location to conduct business. Ease of doing business is critical for the sector to grow. We must continue to find ways of improving efficiency within our public and private sectors in order to enhance the attractiveness of Barbados as a jurisdiction from which to conduct business. It is hoped that through this conference, we can find a workable plan of action. Thank you for your attention.
Ms Connie Smith – Presentation at 2015 IBFS Conference
Protocol having been established, it gives me great pleasure to join Dr. Worrell and the Hon. Donville Inniss in welcoming you to this year’s International Business and Financial Services (IBFS) Conference. Each year, BIBA is pleased to support the Central Bank of Barbados in its efforts to bring together representatives from the public sector agencies key to the success of this sector, to dialogue with and share views with BIBA and other private sector representatives on how to further advance our collective goals. It is interesting to note that the Bank has identified the opening up of the Cuban market as one of the potential growth areas for the Barbados IBFS sector. The shift in United States policy that has created this potentiality could likely lead to more multinational companies targeting Cuba and, with a long-standing bilateral investment treaty and double taxation agreement between Barbados and Cuba already in place, I believe that we are well poised to capitalize on this interest. Ironically, as we sit and meet today to learn more Cuba, right at this very moment, history is being created in Panama at the convening of the Seventh Annual Summit of the Americas – for the first time in history, Cuba has a seat at the table for this Summit. I therefore look forward to the first panel presentation unlocking this potential for us. It is well recognized that Barbados has all of the factors necessary to continue to grow the international business sector. Indeed, we continue to show year-on-year growth in new entrants to the sector, even during the height of the international economic turbulence within the last seven years. The most recent figures show that Barbados continues to attract new IBC registrations in excess of 400 annually since 2007, and at an average rate of 458 new registrations annually over that period. In relation to international insurance, we continue to maintain our number at just over 240 active entities, and while on record our international banks have dwindled from 40 at the end of 2013, to 32 at the end of 2014, we should note that much of the business that was being carried on by companies holding banking licences, is now being conducted within IBCs, ISRLs, or just regular Barbados companies. However, we must remain ever cognizant of the challenges that threaten to undermine our growth potential. And unfortunately some of the more major challenges are not of our own making. The changes made to the domestic taxing environment in Canada last year have had a significant effect on a market segment that we have historically enjoyed. This is reflected in the number of entities currently holding banking licenses as I referenced earlier – another reason that I am keen to hear the presentations from the panel in a few minutes. Increasingly, some members of BIBA have been raising concerns with us about the hurdles they and their clients are facing as clients of local commercial banks. As was ventilated during our first BIBA luncheon seminar for this year, the strict requirements being imposed on international business clients by commercial banks is as a result of the risk profile with which Barbados is viewed by the international correspondent banks that mediate between the local commercial banks and the global financial community. This is an extremely untenable situation as Barbados seeks to fulfil the mandate of its sector’s strategic plan and become the International Business and Wealth Management Centre of choice in this hemisphere. It also does not bode well for our attempts to expand our treaty network into Africa and Latin America and attract more business from those source markets. I think that it is time that we refreshed our strategy in terms of expanding the correspondent banking relationships within our commercial banking sector and I am offering BIBA’s support to the Central Bank of Barbados in leading the development of a new strategy to attract new players into this arena. However, I must reiterate, as I always do, that if we are to keep the new businesses that we attract, and hold on to the ones that are already here, we must improve the ease with which we conduct business in Barbados. We need to put service level agreements in place that guarantee clients in the public and private sector certainty of process when they engage with a business facilitation agency. I would say that the recent implementation of guidelines for all public sector employees by the Office of Public Sector Reform is a step in the right direction and I would encourage that Office to undertake as its next project, to produce benchmarking guidelines for government agencies, especially the client-facing ones, so that there are standards to which they can be held accountable. Our judicial, business incorporation and immigration systems are the first places that I would recommend we start. On that note, we have a stimulating day ahead of us and far be it for me to delay the Minister in delivering his keynote presentation. I look forward to hearing from the presenters and yourselves on some of the key issues that I have raised, as well as the other topics under consideration, during the course of today. Thank you for your time and attention.
Insight into getting started in the international business sector
International Business Week featured a career showcase which was held at the University Of The West Indies’ Guild Lawn. Loop News caught up with past president of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), Connie Smith, as well as Executive Director, Henderson Holmes. Watch the video to see some of the highlights from the career showcase and hear of the opportunities in the international business sector. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.
BIBA’s Charity Walk/Run fun for all
BIBA’s International Business Week culminated with a bang, as they held a Charity Fun Walk/Run on Saturday. A successful week of activities in celebration of Barbados International Business Association’s (BIBA) International Business Week, came to an end yesterday with a Charity Fun Walk/Run. The annual event designed to help Barbadians recognise the contribution the international business sector makes to the local economy, took place from October 16th to 22nd. Events included a Church Service at Mount of Praise Wesleyan Holiness Church, which started the week of celebrations last Sunday; a Secondary Schools Symposium at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on October 18th, where fifth and sixth form students were able to learn more about opportunities in the sector; a Public Discussion Forum at the Tom Adams Financial Centre on the same date, where the topic “International Business: Breaking Down Barriers”, was up for debate; that was followed by a Careers Showcase at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on October 19th, where some students flipped the script on Loop News reporters and took the lead in front of the camera. The October 20th and 21st were dedicated the 2016 edition of the International Business Conference, where “Weathering the Perfect Storm: Explore, Evolve and Adapt” was the theme. It all culminated on Saturday, when the 5 KM Fun Walk/Run took off from Bay Street. Take a look at the photos to see persons of all ages enjoying the event. Articles compliments LOOP News Barbados.
BIBA’s International Business Week continues with a successful career showcase
BIBA’s International Business Week continued with a successful career showcase. Their career showcase was held on Wednesday, October 19th and attracted students from across the island. The Barbados International Business Association’s International Business Week kicked off last Sunday with a church service at the Wesleyan Holian Mount of Praise in Tudor Bridge, St.Michael. On Monday, 17th October an opening reception was held, which was invitation only to sponsors, BIBA members and strategic partners. Tuesday morning, a secondary school symposium was held at The Lloyd Erksine Sandiford Centre which attracted approximately 250 students from around the island. Tuesday night there was also a public discussion forum at the Grande Sale entitled “International Business- Breaking Down Barriers” which headed a vibrant discussion between Gabriel Abed of Bitcoin, Troy Weekes of EZ Learner and Curtis Greaves of Animekon. Their business week continued on Wednesday with a career showcase which was held at the University Of The West Indies’ Guild Lawn. KPMG, First Caribbean, Ministry Of International Business, Government Institute, Financial Service Commission, www.promoter.com, ICSA, Invest Barbados, Lex Caribbean, Trend Media, Loop News, CPA Canada and BTMI were among the businesses with booths. Representatives from these businesses spoke to individuals about their specific companies informing them what the business was all about and if there were any job opportunities, while interview techniques and CV writing were also being taught. Individuals were given the opportunity to practice scenarios and got tips on the do’s and don’t of an interview. Students from The Fedrick Smith Secondary School, St.Michael School, Combermere, Alleyne School, as well as those from The Barbados Community College and UWI attended the showcase. Persons who had recently graduated from UWI also attended carrying with them their curricula vitae in hopes of landing new jobs. Loop News spoke to a few individuals who attended the showcase. “Overall the showcase was interesting. In my opinion, the Loop booth was the most fascinating. I didn’t know about their app or anything but when I get home I will make sure I download it ,” said a student from the Alleyne School. One UWI student admitted that although she did not know about the showcase, in passing after class she decided to stop by: “It looks interesting! If you’re walking by and you look at it, you will want to know what’s this happening because there’s a lot of people and a lot of activity going on.” Loop also spoke to Mialisa Fenty, Marketing and Communications Officer of The BIBA. “The event is going good. We had a really good turn out. I was really surprised and happy to see the secondary school students this morning, I saw Fedrick Smith, Combermere,UWI students and some other schools. We had a good turnout from the secondary schools this afternoon and even the business professionals, some business professionals came out too. I don’t know if anyone from BCC or Polytechnic is here but we did send them an invitation so hopefully, they came out as well!” Fenty admitted: “I know people come looking for certain careers. I guess the only downfall is that we couldn’t get every career that we wanted, unfortunately, but it looks like next year we will make it even bigger.” The Business Week continues through today and Friday with an International Business Conference at the Hilton and on Saturday with the BIBA Charity Fun Walk/ Run which starts and finishes at The Pirate’s Cove. Outside the week of activities, BIBA will be doing a few more activities. Their community project which is a beach cleanup will be held on the 29th of October from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 am. Their first national secondary school quiz will take place on Monday, October 31st. Both locations are to be announced soon. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.
Loop flips the script at BIBA UWI Career Showcase
The table was flipped on Loop News’ Face of Loop Torian Smith, when students caught up with him at the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) career showcase, at UWI. The table was flipped on Loop News’ Face of Loop Torian Smith, when students caught up with him, as the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) celebrated the International Business Week with a career showcase yesterday. That event allowed many persons to get a glimpse into the world of a variety of career paths. Loop News was on hand at the event and students flipped the script on our Face of Loop Torian Smith, as he was taken out of his regular position as host and students instead interviewed him. Take a look at the budding talent in the video. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.