Published On: Mon, Jan 25th, 2016

CIFA: Outlook 2016: more collaboration for a stronger financial sector on Curaçao

IMG_5201WILLEMSTAD - On January 8th 2016, CIFA teamed up with Curaçao International Financial Center (CIFC) for a gathering of minds to discuss the outlook for 2016 for Curaçao's financial services sector. The event that was meant as a festive opening of the new year as well as a forum for its members to interact with each other and give input to the boards on certain topics, was held at the Curaçao Maritime Museum. Several prominent members of the financial services sector, key members of the local government and noteworthy stakeholders were present during this evening. Various speakers updated the guests regarding new legislation, investments by the government for this year and a new marketing campaign for the sector.

A call for more collaboration

In her opening speech the chairman of the CIFA board, Anuschka Cova, talked about a new era for the financial services sector and appealed to the guests for more collaboration in 2016. "Our sector represents over 10% of our gross domestic product and employs over 3,000 individuals. The sector proved resilient in a very difficult international environment, however, our sector will not be able to grow if we don't realize that we have to work as one to achieve the common goal of strengthening Curaçao's overall economy," says Cova. Last year CIFA, and collectively all the members of the association, collaborated with the government, members of the financial services sector and other organizations in an effort to move towards a new era for the island's financial services sector. "This is the new era for our sector. An era of transparency and compliance where there is enough room for a solid jurisdiction like ours with 70 plus years of experience and knowledge," says Cova. Now that the infrastructure is ready we should all move forward in one direction.

Government budget 2016

CIFA envisions an even closer collaboration between the local government, the members of our financial services sector and other stakeholders. Both the minister of Finance José Jardim and the minister of Economic Development Eugene Rhuggenaath spoke about the government's efforts towards strengthening the economy in general and the financial services sector in particular. Also of their role and willingness to act as facilitators of this important sector.  In his speech, Minister  Jardim discussed the drivers behind the government budget for 2016. He stated that the budget for this year delivers on the government's commitment to protect and grow the international financial sector on Curaçao by maintaining a stringent budget discipline and by allocating the necessary resources effectively to strengthen the sector and stimulate real economic growth. "Three years ago when I presented the first budget, we were depleting our reserves. The job of the government was to rescue the country," says Minister Jardim. The government rebuilt the country, strengthened the local finances, passed new compliance laws and enforced these laws, thereby leaving a stronger country for the next generation. "The budget for the year 2016 is set to build on that commitment. After nearly two decades of virtual standstill we have new tax treaties with several key countries like Malta and Qatar, and FATCA (model one) IGA, was concluded with the United States, while ongoing efforts are further extending our international network of tax treaties," Minister Jardim continues. In addition to this, the government passed new legislation and the Taskforce Taxation has been relaunched that will ensure our jurisdiction remains innovative and competitive for years to come. "The budgets adopted by this government also permit large scale capital investments in our infrastructure, such as healthcare, utilities and green energy sources. The claim that Curaçao has to choose between sound public finances and necessary capital investments is a false one. If you are bold with your reforms, you can have both," according to Minister Jardim. Both ministers expressed their commitment to avoid overregulation, to continue their efforts regarding strategic ties with key players in the global economy and to strive for real economic growth.

New marketing campaign: We speak your language!

Another highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the financial services sector's new marketing campaign "We speak your language." In his speech, the chairman of the CIFC board, Ralph Palm, explained the idea behind the campaign. "We will not be selling our beaches or our "handelskade." We're not asking anyone to visit our island," says Palm. The campaign targets high net worth individuals. The logo represents our connection to the world: from our strategic geographical location (between the Americas and Europe) to our multicultural workforce. We literally speak our target audience's language. "We reassure them that we can help them with their requirements by offering specific solutions because of our expertise and our specialized knowledge and services. We “do” speak their language," concluded Palm.

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