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Commerce Minister to convene talks between private sector and judiciary to address legal stumbling blocks to investment

Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss today heard complaints from private sector leaders about a major stumbling block to investment –– the local judiciary.

And at the end of his consultation with them, Inniss, who is also Minister of Industry, International Business and Small Business Development, promised to convene a meeting of key judicial officers and corporate heads with a view to addressing what he called the tardiness of the court in handling business transactions.

“The harsh reality is that, based on all I heard today, there are some very, very serious concerns that the private sector has in interacting with our judiciary,” the minister told reporters at news conference at the Baobab Towers, Warrens, St Michael.

“From their [private sector] perspective, a view that [there is] a level of tardiness or indecisiveness on the part of the judiciary is affecting business in Barbados.

“This is not something you hear about every day, or you see out there in the public domain, but it seemingly is a harsh reality that we have to face.

“So what do we do going forward?” he asked. “I have committed to the private sector grouping here today that I would seek to convene a discussion between the judiciary and the private sector,” answered Inniss.

He is of the view that Chief Justice Marston Gibson and his staff need to hear first-hand from those affected by what is happening in the court system, in particular the challenges.

“We actually have situations where there may be some businesses that may not now be opting to come to Barbados because of their concerns about the judiciary. So let us be fair and sit down with the judiciary and have that conversation,” Inniss said.

The minister told reporters today’s meeting, which would continue on a quarterly basis, also agreed on a way to use commercial banks as an avenue for development financing,
in the absence of a development bank.

“Do we need to go back to a development bank, or do we need to put policies and programmes in place to assist commercial banks in doing some development financing?” Inniss asked rhetorically.

He said the call had been made for the Government to have a closer look at available schemes at the Central Bank, in particular the Guarantee Scheme, as well as any other low cost financing from the international market that can be funnelled through the commercial bank to assist in a development role.  The Minister of Industry said the agreement was also to help banks to identify priority areas of assistance.


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