KINGSTON — Jamaica has a good shot at success as an International Financial Centre (IFC), Chairman of the Jamaica International Financial Services Authority (JIFSA), Eric Crawford, told the Diaspora Convention in Ocho Rios, Thursday June 16.
“It’s a very high value added industry everywhere it exists. In fact, the wealthiest economies in the world are international financial centres, and Jamaica has a very good shot at making a success of an international financial centre,” he stated.
He was speaking to members of the Jamaican Diaspora at their fourth biennial convention at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, St. Ann. The convention, which ends Friday June 17, is being held under the theme, ‘One Nation: Jamaica and its Diaspora in Partnership’.
“If we make it as successful, as we believe it can be, the implications for the economy will be far reaching and significant,” he explained.
He noted that annual registration fees to establish the companies and other entities are significant, and would mean additional taxes for the Government, as well as significant earnings for professionals in terms of audit, legal and other professional fees.
Mr. Crawford also noted that some of the world’s wealthiest countries boasted international financial centres of their own, including Bermuda, which has the highest per capita income of any country in the world.
He said the initiative would represent a significant diversification of the Jamaican economy, as the island was already providing a fairly significant number of services to international markets.
“This financial centre will be targeted at international markets. It will not be targeted at Jamaicans or Jamaican businesses,” he explained.
He also noted that, as the country has already accomplished much, in terms of call centres and telemarketing businesses, an international financial centre would be an addition to the suite of services offered to the global market.
“We are ideally situated to have linkages in the other service sectors, such as the hotel industry. It would mean a boom for the real estate developers, professionals, people who make office supplies, and it would establish Jamaica as another major force in the international markets,” he argued.
He pointed out that, for international businesses to take advantage of the services that financial centres offer, they have to establish more substantial presence in jurisdictions where their entities reside. For this reason, it is believed that there is a tremendous opportunity for Jamaica to utilize its cadre of professionals.
He noted that the country has an excellent regulatory infrastructure, which has been developed over the years, based on the experiences of the nineties.
“We have significantly strengthened our financial regulation and, therefore, we’re finding great resonance with the international business community that utilizes these services to operate in Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Crawford also noted that those who believe Jamaica was coming into the business of international financial services too late are wrong.
“The timing is great, because the rules have changed significantly. No longer is it possible to operate a centre that is based on secrecy, and the offering of services that foster money laundering and tax evasion. There have been very significant developments internationally that is making it unviable for financial centres to operate on the basis of secrecy,” he argued.
He said Jamaica now has the opportunity to enter the business, when the rules have changed dramatically and the country has the infrastructure to be successful.
Over 300 Jamaicans, mainly from the North American and European Diaspora are attending the three-day Convention, which is being hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter