By Cathy Lashley
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Plans are on stream to bolster the international business sector to make Barbados a better place to do business, and legislation will be introduced to improve the product offerings.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who was the featured speaker at a business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
In a wide-ranging address, Stuart said that government would continue to work on approximately 20 new double taxation treaties to give the country "a critical mass of treaties in each major area of the world". He added that there were also plans to negotiate additional bilateral investment treaties to complement existing double taxation agreements.
Furthermore, he told those in attendance that, in order to deal proactively with the new Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) legislation in the US, the government would negotiate with that country "so as to reduce the cost to and impact on Barbados of this legislation".
He added: "All of the government departments and agencies that interface with the international business sector will be provided with the necessary resources and systems to bring their responsiveness to the sector's needs up to the best standards, while preserving the integrity of the domicile."
Stuart indicated that the agencies involved would include the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, the Immigration Department, the Inland Revenue Department, the International Business Division, the Financial Services Commission, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel's Office.
In addition, he said that Invest Barbados would "intensify promotion of the country as a domicile through which investment is done, through more road shows into those markets with the most potential". He also disclosed that there would be more face-to-face meetings with service providers and potential clients in those markets, and "closer contact with relevant government agencies in countries from which our business comes".
Turning attention to tourism, Stuart noted that there were big plans for that sector. He indicated that during the course of the next few months, construction work would start on the Pierhead marina for luxury yachts and the new Bridgetown cruise pier so as to separate cruise ships from cargo vessel operations.
"Both of these projects will include the reclamation of land to be developed into mixed-use tourism establishments. We will give renewed vigour to the redevelopment of Bridgetown, and provide support for the restoration of our heritage assets and creation of incentive programmes to sustain these assets", the prime minister declared.
He further added that promotion in each of the source markets would be improved with government sponsoring more airlift from Western Canada, the USA, and Scandinavian countries. He disclosed that more airlift with Latin America would be sought by inaugurating direct air links with Panama.
"Similarly, we will sponsor airlift to South Africa. Where new air routes are inaugurated, we will engage in more cooperative advertising with partners in those markets. Marketing and promotion of our cruise tourism will similarly be intensified," he said, adding that heritage tourism the thrust would continue unabated.
Moreover, he maintained that in order to accommodate the increase in visitors expected as a result of the improved marketing thrust, Barbados needed to rebuild its capacity in tourism.
He noted: "To expand our physical capacity in tourism and reverse the decline in rooms that set in between 1995 and 2007, we will support several major construction projects in the sector by offering incentives through the Tourism Development Act. These will include the revitalised Four Seasons project, further expansion of the Crane Beach Resort, rebuilding and expanding Almond Beach Village, Beachlands, Regency, continuation of Port Ferdinand, and rebuilding of Sam Lord's Castle."
In conclusion, the prime minister told the business executives that infrastructural planning was sufficiently advanced with increased levels of economic activity and employment expected in the near future, as the country was positioned for more development.