Minister of Industry, Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss.
Delays causing some concern
THE CARICOM Secretariat needs to speed up the process of approving applications for import licences made by regional manufacturers seeking to import raw materials from outside of the Caribbean.
So says Minister of Industry, Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss. He made the comments after touring the Good Time Snacks Limited plant located in the Grazettes Industrial Estate last week, as he explained that delays experienced in obtaining a licence to import such materials are hampering how those businesses operate. During the tour, Chief Operating Officer of Good Time Snack, Andrew Noel, explained that among the products they have to import is palm oil, as there is currently no producer of such oil in the Caribbean region.
With that in mind, the Minister said that he intends to raise the issue at the next meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), to see how they can improve the efficiency with respect to such applications.
“There are some products, for example the oil, that are used here by Good Times Snacks, that is clearly not produced within the region. There are other oils that are produced right here in Barbados, there are some within the region, but obviously cannot be used in the products produced here by Good Time Snacks, and they themselves would find occasionally that there may be delays in getting their application for the licence approved through the CARICOM Secretariat, because you have to get the opinion of other Member States, in terms of their ability to satisfy the demand,” he said.
Inniss is adamant that where there is clear evidence that the item is not, has never been and cannot be produced in the Caribbean, and import substitution is not an option, rather than delaying the process, such applications should be approved.
“We need to stop encouraging delaying statics, and find ways in which companies like these can be allowed to import some of the raw materials they need. If not, they find themselves driving their costs up, because they have to import in bulk to satisfy the licensing period, and then you have high storage costs and you run the risk of some loss of the raw materials,” he said.
If that occurs, the Minister warned the consumer is also at a disadvantage, as those costs are often passed on to the consumers, who then pay a higher price for the products. (JRT)