MORE CAN BE DONE
Minister of Industry, Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss says he is not satisfied with the state of the manufacturing sector in this country.
Inniss made the point as he said that he is concerned that the sector is still one that thrives on incentives from the state and protection of the state, by way of high rates of duty on competing products which are imported. He raised the concern as he responded to questions from the media, after participating in a tour of Good Time Snacks Limited in Grazettes, which he commended for staying the course and exporting its products into the wider Caribbean.
“Once that kind of environment continues ad infinitum it can stifle creativity, it can certainly not allow us to find our strengths in the industry and that is a work in progress… we can’t just stop incentives overnight,” he said.
Inniss’ comments came as he said that more needs to be done to make Barbadians aware of what products are made locally, and to show them that those products are not inferior to those which are imported. The Minister suggested that to some extent Barbadians are not appreciative of what is produced here.
“We used to have a slogan ‘Buy Bajan’, the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association must be commended for that, but I somehow feel as though we have slackened up a bit on that and there may be a case where people genuinely don’t know what is produced in Barbados. I don’t think many people sometimes appreciate the wide range of snacks that Good Time Snacks produce and I would encourage them when they go to the supermarket tomorrow and pick their snacks, look and see where they are manufactured and if they are manufactured in Barbados, given priority to that,” he stated.
Another challenge the sector faces he said, is realising economies of scale. He suggested that rather than companies in the same industry competing, with antiquated machinery and utilising the same old designs, they should come together.
“That is why the BIDC is forging ahead with the cluster aspect of manufacturing, where we can provide, certainly in the food industry, the condiment industry, equipment that can satisfy maybe six to seven different labels and that helps to drive the cost down, whilst not compromising on quality,” he said.
The Industry Minister added, “And there also needs to be within the manufacturing sector, a can do attitude and one that certainly teaches them that the world is their oyster. You can’t sit and believe that your business would grow by leaps and bounds just within a 166 square mile market with 300,000 people.”
With these issues in mind, he is giving stakeholders in the industry the assurance that his Ministry will continue to address policy-wise, the major bugbears affecting them including access to incentives, the rate of duty and investment in technology and will seek through the BIDC to expand the export markets as has been recently done with Guyana, St. Lucia, Grenada, and they are looking to with Cuba and the Northern Caribbean. (JRT)