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The diversification of the Barbadian rum industry will be one of the main drives of the government in the next few years.
Speaking on the Cane Industry project outlined in the last budgetary proposals, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, noted that funding had already been found for the US$250 million project, which will be held over 2013-2016.
“One factory that will produce more molasses for the rum industry and at the same time, create our own brand of sugar that will help generate more foreign exchange and create more jobs,” he stated.
In addition, he pointed out that the by products of cane would also be fully utilised, noting that the ethanol produced will be used as gasoline fuel for vehicles, resulting in saving some foreign exchange.
The minister expressed that there were several obstacles currently plaguing the sector, especially regarding taxation.
“We recognise that the USA has tax on rums coming into their market.
They use this tax to provide a subsidy which is now being used by rum manufacturers in Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands in a manner which has resulted in Barbadian rums in the US market being very uncompetitive. This has had a profound negative impact on the rum industry in Barbados. There will be a level of subsidies or incentives offered to rum industry in Barbados. Barbados is the home of rum and we cannot walk away from an industry which brings in $60 million a year, and maintains hundreds of jobs, so from the industrial and manufacturing side, we will produce programmes to help diversify the product range and help diversify this sector,” he added.
Pointing out that Foursquare Rum Factory had signed on a $100 million contract to produce a special brand of rum for a client over the next five years, he argued that it is time to utilise what was unique to this island, in terms of marketing, including using our own international pop star Rihanna.
“I look forward to the day when we can have a rum called Rihanna. Let us be bold enough to say that whether you like her or not, she is a household name out there. Barbados is the home of rum and I look forward to a say when I can sit and have a sip of ‘Rihanna’ rum. I have no problem with seeing a magazine page or bill board with this in Europe or the US advertising her rum once it is made in Barbados,” he said. (JMB)