BIBA pushing sector resilience

Stakeholders in Barbados’ vital global business community are not prepared to let the sector falter, despite the rapidly changing regulatory and geo-political influences that are challenging its growth.

The assurance has come from Derrick Cummins, President of BIBA, the Association for Global Business, as he addressed the media launch of Global Business Week 2021 (GBW 2021), last Wednesday. The week will be hosted from October 24 to 30.

The online audience also included Ronald Toppin, Minister of International Business and Industry, June Chandler, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of International Business and Industry, representatives from insurance companies, commercial and international banks, investment management and audit firms, as well as Government departments and regulators.

Cummins, who is in his second term as president, acknowledged the global business sector faced headwinds during its existence. However, he praised operators in the sector and Government for their collective actions to develop solutions and counter positions.

“Over the past months, the COVID-19 coronavirus was indeed the most significant threat facing our shores, and by extension our way of doing business. We have seen the devastation – loss of lives and the disruption of business, and yet, despite these, we have seen innovation and a resolve to continue pressing forward. The global business sector has proven to be a largely resilient economic sector in Barbados in the face of the pandemic. However, we cannot rest on what we have achieved,” Cummins noted.

Speaking to the power of the collective, Cummins added: “Headwinds are a norm for business – for start-ups and for mature businesses, for floundering businesses and for successful businesses. . . . We must seek to sharpen the saw, so to speak, and improve our processes towards being even more resilient and robust, especially in a digitalised economy.” As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, GBW 2021 will, for the second consecutive year, be held virtually and feature several international, regional, and local thought-leaders. They will examine the pressing issues confronting the global business sector and its interconnectedness with Barbados’ economic success.

Adapt. Evolve. Execute. Lead the Change will be the ongoing theme from 2020. This theme seeks to place emphasis on citizens and residents involved in the global business sector to adapt to the changes taking place; evolve as the environment demands; and execute on strategy by taking action.

Cummins noted that GBW 2021 will focus on pushing for efficient and effective platforms on which the sector can update the current practitioners on new ideas, concepts, and opportunities; educate and sensitise the future workforce, entrepreneurs, and leaders; champion the needs of member practitioners; and partner with Government and its many arms in innovating legislation and disseminating information.

In his address to the media launch, Minister Toppin praised BIBA for its commitment to the sector and its “indefatigable love for this country”. Speaking to some of the current issues, Minister Toppin conceded that while “we resented the high-handedness of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we were forced to take a hard look at some of our product offerings.

For example, for some time, global de-risking trends had resulted in challenges for Barbadian registered entities to establish and maintain banking relationships both domestically and abroad, and this had caused a fall in international business registrations.”

The Minister further noted: “The requirement to comply with Action 5 of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting programme on Countering Harmful Tax Practices, rolled out under the framework of the Inclusive Framework, of which Barbados is a member, eventually brought about the repeal and amendment of 13 pieces of existing legislation.

“The fact that we were forced to make these changes, resulted in our beginning the serious discourse on the redesign and redevelopment of the international business and financial services sector.”

GWB 2021 will also feature the BIBA Charity Virtual 5K, Church Donation & Community Project, Virtual Opening Reception, Public Discussion Forum, Secondary Schools’ Symposium and Careers Showcase, and the marque event – the three-day Global Business Week Conference. (PR)