The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau is finalising its strategic plans for the next five years, with some new staff to assist local entrepreneurs and a renewed focus on international investment.
Investment and Commerce Minister Charles Clifford has been pushing for the bureau’s growth as a way to develop the undervalued side of Cayman’s economy.
‘We are excited about the growth the bureau has experienced in the past two years and, in its capacity as an economic development agency, we look forward to its continued expansion as it supports both foreign and local investment,’ he said recently.
‘Immediate plans for this fiscal year include the hiring of more staff locally, the opening of a new office in the Sister Islands by the end of 2007 and a revised strategy for dealing with inward investment.’
In recent weeks local staff increased with the addition of the bureau’s fourth full-time business development advisor, Charmaine Moss.
Ms Moss, who is immediate past chair of the Young Business and Professional Women’s Club, joins CIIB Executive Director Dax Basdeo, Dwene Ebanks and Shannon McKenzie on the business development advisor team.
‘It is fulfilling that, in my new post with the CIIB, I am able to positively impact the decision-making of budding entrepreneurs and business-owners by helping them to make informed decisions about their businesses,’ she said.
‘I’m looking forward to that the most.’
Ms Moss is not the only new addition to the CIIB staff. After seven years with Deutsche Bank in an executive secretary capacity, Angela Mowbray has also recently joined CIIB as the new executive officer.
CIIB visitors will encounter Ms Mowbray when visiting the bureau’s head office on Hospital Road or when booking appointments.
‘We are thrilled to welcome Ms Moss and Ms Mowbray to the CIIB team and look forward to continuing to meet the needs of our growing clientele effectively and efficiently, with their assistance,’ said Mr. Basdeo.
Mr. Clifford said additional plans for the CIIB include a strategic reorganization of its overseas offices to introduce more proactive targeting of appropriate foreign investment.
Appropriate investment in this case refers to investments that fall within the government’s economic development priorities, and which are sustainable.
Trade and Business Licensing Board Chair Dale Crighton says most foreign investment is concentrated on two sectors: real estate and the offshore financial sector.
‘It’s about an even distribution between real estate investment and such things as registered companies, licensed companies, and mutual funds,’ said Mr. Crighton.
‘With regard to onshore investment, that’s concentrated in real estate, while exempt companies and mutual funds that are domiciled here, make up more of the offshore foreign investment,’ he said.
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority’s Managing Director Cindy Scotland says mutual funds comprise the largest number of entities authorized by CIMA.
‘As at 30 June, 2007, there were 8,300 registered funds (over 90 per cent of which can be characterized as hedge funds), as well as 560 administered and 112 licensed funds,’ she says.
‘By comparison, the next largest segment of authorised entities is captive insurance companies, the number of which stood at 752 at 30 June.’
And the offshore financial services companies that keep these and other funds running also invest onshore in office space and new office buildings, sinking hard currency into the country’s infrastructure.
‘It’s also not easy to tell just by looking at the business licenses how much foreign investment is coming into the country in some sectors,’ says Mr. Crighton.
‘As while a company needs to be 60 per cent Caymanian owned, the rest may be comprised of either foreign or local investment,’ he said.
Furthermore, when it comes to real estate investment, individuals can buy up to two properties without registering with the board.
‘The one foreign investment sector I see really growing is accounting,’ says Mr. Crichton. ‘That is just on a steady rise.’
In the CIIB’s strategic reorganisation aimed at bolstering international investment, the CIIB will be focusing on Britain.
‘[Due to the reorganisation], the contract for the CIIB’s liaison in London, Mr. Charles Parchment, which expired at the end of July, 2007, has not been renewed, but the functions of the office remain in place,’ said Mr. Clifford.
Jennifer Dilbert, the Cayman Islands UK representative, will be overseeing the affairs of the CIIB London office and will act as liaison for potential foreign investors.
‘There will be a seamless transition before the implementation of the bureau’s strategic five-year plan,’ said the Minister.
‘[This applies] both locally and overseas, with no effect on foreign investors from the UK and European markets that seek to do business in the Cayman Islands.’