Barbados’ international business and financial services sector has contributed approximately 70% of corporate tax revenues collected during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Professor Avinash Persaud, Special Envoy to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
The sector’s importance and continued resilience were starkly underscored during the recently held ‘Barbados to the World’ Business Barbados 2021 Media Conference’, a panel discussion that was a part of the Business Barbados’ magazine launch. Panellists also included Keith Miller, Publisher of Business Barbados and Derrick Cummins, President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA).
The BIBA President noted that the revenue generation over the period had been “substantial” and that the sector had outperformed several of the other traditional sectors, which were heavily impacted due to the pandemic. According to Cummins, the sector recorded increased registrations in captive insurance, foreign currency permits and in the number of companies registered.
Cummins explained why the sector was able to perform so admirably during Covid-19. “We continued to service our core income generating activities.” These included services such as accounting, business management, trusts, investment management and corporate services, none of which came to a halt during lockdown.
Stressing the need for Barbados to be global, Miller emphasised, “We cannot expect the world to come to Barbados to give us business. We have to take Barbados to the world and attract the business.” Using the theme of ‘Barbados to the World’ for the 2021 edition of the Business Barbados magazine, Miller said it was also important to tell real life stories of persons who had successfully set up a business in Barbados. He cited the example of Damian McKinney, Stoli Group’s Global CEO, who presently manages the global group from Barbados, but previously ran his own global company successfully from the island. Miller emphasised that, “one of the wonderful things about Barbados is you can establish and manage a successful international business and enjoy your life at the same time.”
Professor Persaud praised Barbados’ infrastructure, particularly its high speed internet and lauded the improvements which the jurisdiction had made over the years, making business facilitation easier in areas such as immigration services, obtaining a Police Certificate of Character and incorporating a business.
According to him, the essential elements for success in the international business and financial services sector are technology, training and improving the ease of doing business. Regarding the element of training, he encouraged Barbadians to visit the new National Transformation Initiative website, where there were 50,000 ‘Coursera’ courses from which to choose. He indicated that it was important for Barbadians to access new markets and export their “great skills” globally, regardless of the type of careers they chose. He also reminded Barbadians that “we are all part of the international busines sector… every Barbadian must think of the world as their marketplace.”
In addition to stressing the need for a collaborative approach to enhance the international business and financial services sector, Cummins spoke of the sector’s abundant value and noted that it was absolutely critical for government and other stakeholders to do all they could to enable further growth.