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An international financial services executive has said that Barbados was well positioned to get more international business from South and Central America and the United Kingdom (UK).
However, the deputy chairman of Cidel Bank & Trust Ben Arrindell warned that the country must first eradicate inefficiencies if it is to benefit from these markets.
Arrindell, who is a member of the Barbados tax treaty negotiating team, spoke this morning at an international business update seminar at the Savannah Hotel, on the topic Bilateral Treaties and Business Opportunities.
He told participants that the island was in “an excellent position” to get more, and in some cases, new, business from Belize, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Cuba.
He said given the tax systems in place in Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico, these countries should become immediate targets.
But he said there were some issues that must first be resolved.
“One of the most important factors in my view, and one of the most serious impediments to growth is in our own hands. I think as a jurisdiction we are inefficient [and] we are slow.
“If we are talking about serious growth for the international financial services sector and Barbados being really competitive in new markets, I think we have to address those issues,” he told a roomful of financial services and international business executives.
In relation to the UK market, Arrindell said there were many “high net worth” individuals who would be looking to leave the UK when new tax rules come into effect in April 2017.
In his recent budget presentation, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the government would end permanent entitlement to the controversial non-domicile loophole that has allowed thousands of wealthy families to live in Britain without paying taxes on their overseas income.
According to reports, the new rule will affect about 15,000 individuals who have lived in the UK for more than 15 of the last 20 years.
“So the UK will be a good target for us with respect to high net worth individuals who we want to attract to Barbados,” Arrindell said.
Also touching on the Special Entry and Resident Permits (SERP) measure highlighted in Barbados’ 2013 Budget, Arrindell suggested that authorities focus on “broadening” its scope to include more young people.
Among the requirements to qualify for SERP status, individuals must have a property or investment of at least US$2 million purchased with funds sourced outside Barbados.
“It is not justified that somebody can live in this country for so long, maybe ten or 15 years, and still not be entitled to apply for a Barbados passport,” said Arrindell.
“I think we all know what the benefits carrying these people in Barbados are. We tend to focus on the retirees. That is fine. They have a lot of money. They contribute to the economy. I am really more focused on the younger generation, the entrepreneurs, the commodity traders, the software developers . . . they are being targeted by countries like Switzerland [and] Singapore. We need to have a focused approach to attracting these individuals,” suggested Arrindell.