BIBA uneasy with move
THE PENDING SALE of Scotiabank in the Caribbean is causing the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) much angst.
The bank said on Tuesday it had struck a deal to sell banking businesses in nine of the smaller countries in the Caribbean, such as Antigua and Dominica, as the lender continues to narrow down the number of international markets in which it operates.
Scotiabank also announced its subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago had agreed to sell their insurance operations to Sagicor Financial Corporation Ltd, and the insurance company would underwrite insurance products for Scotia’s banking subsidiaries through a 20-year distribution agreement.
BIBA president Julia Hope told a media sensitisation session on the Barbados response to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting initiative, held at Baobab Towers, Warrens, St Michael yesterday, the move pointed to a need to quickly address business facilitation in Barbados.
“We keep talking about the ease of doing business in Barbados . . . . Yesterday we heard that Scotiabank is withdrawing from the region with the exception of Barbados. The ease of doing business relates to everything from being able to open and operate bank accounts, through to incorporating companies, through to having lawyers, accountants provide services. It is the full gamut of services and banking forms a core part of those services.
“Hearing that one of the significant players in that market is determining that the region is not where they need to operate apart from Barbados, does give us some cause for concern. We have significant issues operating bank accounts in Barbados and this is something BIBA is working closely with the banks to hopefully resolve, but this does give us some cause for concern,” she told reporters.
Meantime, director of international business, Kevin Hunte, said the acquisition highlighted the necessity for the services of credit unions here to be expanded.
“There’s nothing that we can do to stop [Scotiabank from leaving]. That is a business decision that they are free to make. But if you have situation like that happening, and I don’t think you should be waiting for that to happen, we can have what has been spoken about for along time – our credit unions starting a bank.”