Date Released: 25 February 1999
"The finance centre has grown both in levels of personnel and business, especially in the areas of company trusts and private banking." These are the comments of the outgoing President of the Chamber of Commerce in the Introduction to its recently-published Annual Report.
Ian Prescott goes on to say: "The benefits of insurance passporting services will hopefully begin to come through, and 1999 should see the deposit guarantee scheme being finalised and passporting for banks becoming operative. The Edwards report portrayed Gibraltar and its regulations structure well an fully equipped in relation to other offshore centres."
In addition to this reference in the introduction, the Chamber Report devotes a further six pages to the activities of the finance centre in 1998 and its prospects for 1999 and beyond.
The Chamber believes that the development of the finance centre is "of paramount importance", and that Gibraltar needs to grow in this area "taking advantage of EU directives, whilst at the same time protecting its existing business".
The Report says that it is clear from the DTI's finance centre survey that "the improvement in reputation which Gibraltar has enjoyed over the last two years has seen better quality private client work coming to Gibraltar". It adds that there is "further work to be done to consolidate Gibraltar's reputation so that institutions are attracted to Gibraltar in greater numbers".
The Chamber's Annual Report points out that the greatest threat facing the industry was highlighted by the Government survey: the prospect of EU tax harmonisation.
Says the Report: "The Government has made its position clear in this regard. The Government will not give up Gibraltar's sovereignty to determine its own tax system. However, the survey should provide the Government with the added impetus to modernise and reform the Gibraltar tax system."
Working In Partnership
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Peter Montegriffo, is quoted as saying: "We have worked hard over the last two years to turn around Gibraltar's image and profile as a finance centre and the results are now beginning to come through."
"This has been achieved in a spirit of co-operation between the Government, the private sector and the Financial Services Commission, our independent regulator. Working together in partnership, we will continue to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and ensure the continuing prosperity of our finance centre."
On the Edwards report, the Chamber comments: "The good news is clearly that many of the main recommendations of the Edwards report have already been implemented, which puts us well ahead of the Islands."
"There can be no doubt that Gibraltar is benefiting from the regulatory structure which is in place and it should, in the medium to long term, if not in the short term, attract a greater level of quality institutional business to Gibraltar."
"The year under review saw further progress being made on the regulatory front," says the Chamber, putting Gibraltar abreast in terms of banking laws and a regulatory regime which matches that of the UK "and compares favourably with best practice in the EU and internationally".
Now that passporting status for banking is within reach, "the next step for Gibraltar will be to acquire passporting status for investment services. Both are dependent on "the missing piece of the puzzle, i.e. the deposit guarantee scheme".
The Chamber expects the necessary legislation establishing the deposit guarantee scheme to be in place "in the early part of 1999" and banking passporting to be approved by the UK "during the first half of 1999".
Anthony Fisher Finance Centre Development Director Department of Trade & Industry Government of Gibraltar Suite 771, Europort Gibraltar Tel No: + 350 50011 Fax No: + 350 47677 E-mail: Click Contact Link Website: Click Contact Link
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