The Adrian Loveridge Column – Banks No Help!
The larger overseas tourism investors appear to be relatively well taken care of through their own ability to negotiate concessions in various degrees, but I wonder if there is sufficient information available in a one-stop shop format that could tempt the potential smaller entities willing and able to take advantage of current development possibilities?
From our experience thirty years ago purchasing a derelict hotel and then over the years that followed, transforming it into a high occupancy, multi award winning property, it would be silly not to admit that there were far too many challenges, hoops and hurdles put in our way. And you are seriously left to wonder, just how daunting it is and does it present too big a deterrent to the overwhelming majority of those with the capital or wherewithal available.
We did everything by the book, all foreign currency brought in to Barbados was properly registered by the Central Bank and with existing bilateral treaties, ratified by both Government’s involved , you would think there were no concerns and that any initial investment together with an agreed return on that investment, could be easily repatriated.
But due to our current economic crisis, that may well be in doubt, if the current administration does not move swiftly to clearly enunciate that foreign funds, properly documented can in fact be returned to the country of origin without lengthy delays and needless bureaucracy.
Of course there is always an element of risk in any private sector venture and while larger developments are structured with inbuilt due diligence and financial checks in place at every turn, we should not dismiss investment at the smaller level, which is often emotionally driven.
While property prices and perhaps to a lesser degree, land values remain depressed to the point of being currently largely a buyer’s market, is there any way we can as a country turn this to a national advantage, at least in the medium to long term?
There remains exceptional ocean front opportunities with some parcels of land costing less per square foot, when you compare with quality floor covering in many first world countries.
Locally, one of the single largest challenges continues to be the availability of development or investment capital. With our banks, seemingly averse to lending, despite tourism effectively being the only engine of growth, it seems almost incomprehensible that they are not playing a greater part in our economic recovery.
Where do they imagine that they are going to recover their lost profits, through the interest lost on the downwardly renegotiated state bonds and debentures by repurchase agreements, often referred to as haircutting?
Is it even vaguely feasible that it is going to be generated by the ever increasing and introduction of new service fees, residential mortgages, car loans and what many consider as usury credit card interest? Perhaps it is long overdue that our non-banking financial institutions devise other monetary tools to help return our economy to sustained growth.
With banks paying almost negligible interest on deposits and Government defaulting, or perhaps more fairly devaluing, what was previously deemed as guaranteed returns on bonds and debentures it may just be the perfect time to creative alternative financing.
Could models like the British Business Bank (www.british-business-bank.co.uk) which is UK Government owned but independently managed be adapted to work effectively for Barbados?