Minister hints at changes to international business sector

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 26, CMC – A senior Barbados government minister has hinted at the possibility of changes to the island’s international business sector.
Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, said he would be seeking Cabinet’s approval to implement changes to the sector, indicating that some of the proposed changes include abolishing the Foreign Currency Earnings Credit, making legislative amendments and a halt to issuing  International Business Company (IBC) Licenses and International Societies Restricted Liability (SRL) Licenses.

Ronald Toppin

Toppin told the 10th International Business Week’s International Business Conference, organized by the Barbados International Business Association that the changes are being made following the island’s implementation of Action 5 of the Harmful Tax Practices of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project.
“Barbados’ commitment to implementing Action 5 of the BEPS project, as well as the ongoing economic recovery transformation programme, has caused us to critically examine our systems with a view to understanding how they contribute to Barbados’ overall competitiveness or the lack thereof, and improving them.
“It is proposed that the Foreign Currency Earnings Credit will be abolished and that Barbados will be moving to a regime which will see the convergence of tax across all business entities. The details are still being assessed and various modules are currently being run.  What I can state is that the new rate will remain competitive and ensure that those international businesses which are here will continue to benefit from certain incentives,” he said.
Toppin said that from December 31, the International Business Unit would no longer issue IBC licenses and SRL licenses.
“This will, in effect, close off these regimes as the IBC Act will be repealed and the SRL Act will be amended to give effect to the end of new International Societies,” he said, adding that a new regime would be “rolled out” in January 2019, which will seek to maintain the current benefits to the industry as much as possible”
Toppin said that the details still needed to go before Cabinet.
“What I will say is that, shortly, we will be announcing the nuances of the transition process and two new vehicles that will be used to traverse this global arena.” He said, adding that the ease of doing business in Barbados was also being critically examined.
“The response thereto is not only to address BEPS concerns but to enhance and improve areas such as the use of technologies and improvements to our regulatory regime, the Companies Act and the Foundations Act, to name a few”.
Describing Barbados as “David with the mammoth task… of conquering Goliath”, Toppin said he believed the country was well placed to achieve the triumph of completing the necessary legislative amendments by the December 31, 2018, deadline.
He said that Barbados would provide its final progress update at the upcoming extra-ordinary meeting of the Forum of Harmful Tax Practises (FHTP) in early January.
“The European Union is monitoring our progress by way of the reports issued by the OECD through its FHTP and, therefore, we do not expect or anticipate any negative listing by the European Union.  We are nimble, skilled and strategic enough to accomplish our mission,” Toppin told the conference.

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