Barbados is making headway on the vexing matter of derisking and correspondent banking relations and may secure the cooperation of the United States Department Of The Treasury as a key institutional partner in the process if all goes well.
This was one of the key disclosures by Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of Energy and Business, as he addressed BIBA, the Association for Global Business’ September Luncheon Seminar at the Savannah Beach Club & Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church on September 28.
The Senior Minister, who was presenting at the seminar titled: The Road Ahead for Global Business in Barbados, said there were signs the US Department Of The Treasury was “inclined” to work with Barbados and the region to have correspondent banking services (CBS) designated in legislation as “indispensable services” and “part of the infrastructure of any economy”.
Symmonds alerted the gathering that included top business executives and officials from bodies such as the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Barbados Private Sector Association, that this was a critical proposal because of the tremendous influence which the US Department Of The Treasury has to facilitate the legislation and “enable other jurisdictions who tend to follow suit, to understand the vital role that correspondent banking relations play”.
He asserted this “cannot be a matter that you trifle with . . . because you are toying with people’s livelihoods”. He stressed it threatened to “undermine commerce, undermine trade and flows of financing across borders”.
The senior Cabinet member urged BIBA’s membership to leverage the access they have to corporate boardrooms and “financial corridors” in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to give voice to the dangers posed to Barbados by these developments.
At the same time, the Minister advised that Government’s focus was on finding solutions to the challenges.
In this connection, he said development partners such at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, have been invited to “work with us in trying to come to a regional position . . . to create a mechanism where we can pool transactions, so that they become more attractive to correspondent banks and, therefore, assist us in being more relevant to them”.
During his wide-ranging presentation, the Energy and Business Minister stressed that even as the island pursues carbon neutrality by 2030, it was not abandoning its hydrocarbon explorations as an export and foreign exchange earning avenue potential.
“The world is not going to stop using hydrocarbons in 2030 or 2040… during that period, this country has to be able to finance the plan that we have to move from where we are today to be entirely fossil fuel free in our domestic space,” he explained.
Symmonds described as “foolhardy” for the island to not exploit such an important resource given all of the financial realities the country has to confront.
He added: “Based on the seismic data, the final results of which we should receive next month, there is every good reason to believe that Barbados may be a missing piece in what is becoming a red zone of gas discoveries in the Caribbean and quite frankly, in the world.”
During his presentation, Symmonds revealed Government was also preparing new legislation to establish a register of beneficial ownership for all companies operating on the island. However, he emphasised that it would not be a public register and would facilitate ease of access to the information by regulators and law enforcement wherever applicable or necessary.
The proposed Beneficial Ownership Register would address one of the key weaknesses identified by global standard setting agencies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The register would require companies to provide accurate and updated beneficial ownership information in a timely manner to the CAIPO Registrar, and there will be attendant penalties for non-compliance.
In a brief address to the seminar, President of BIBA, Jamar Arthur-Selman promised the association would continue its engagement and lobbying on behalf of members through entities such as Invest Barbados, as well as the Social Partnership where it has membership.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Carmel Haynes highlighted the upcoming Global Business Week (GBW) to be staged from October 23 to 29 and its flagship GBW Conference themed “Navigating a Challenging Global Business Environment: Opportunities and Change” to be held in-person for the first time in three years.