HEAD of the Arawak Cement Company, Manuel Toro believes that the construction industry in Barbados has the potential over the next two three years to contribute to more growth in the economy.
Speaking to The Barbados Advocate on the outlook for the industry and the performance of Arawak, Toro acknowledged that there are challenges in the country.
However, he is quite optimistic about the way forward, and pointed to at least three reasons why Barbados is going to see a pick up in construction activity in that period.
The first, he said, is that Barbados is a brand in the Caribbean and as such, it will continue to attract new investments. In addition, he said that the labour force in Barbados is highly educated which makes it easy to transfer technology and other knowledge to the local labour force. “Also, Barbados has a strong tradition and strong institutions,” Toro said after participating in a cash give back ceremony which Arawak hosted at the Radisson Hotel.
In relation to the transfer of technology, the Official said that they at the Arawak Cement Company Limited have sent their engineers to other plants around the world to broaden their scope and to acquire additional expertise. On their return to Barbados, they have been putting the new knowledge and ideas into practice at the local company, he explained.
The Arawak CEO said the industry here has good networks all of which is good for the industry.
Toro pointed out that one of the reasons they had invited personnel from Cemex, Switzerland to attend this year’s BMEX, was to showcase the potential for the industry.
The St. Lucy based plant has the capacity to produce 350 000 tons of cement. Currently the plant is producing approximately 300 000 tons. “So I have room to produce another 50 000 tons and in someway I can expand once the construction industry in Barbados starts growing,” he remarked.
The CEO indicated that Barbados is very well positioned in the Caribbean to supply the commodity to markets across the region. Furthermore, unlike some other territories, there is an abundance of limestone in Barbados, one of the key inputs used in the manufacture of cement.
“Basically I think we are in difficult times in general where all the companies, our customers are seeing declines. The cost of construction is affected by the high cost of energy,” he said.
However, the official is hoping that once the government maintains its thrust with its renewable energy platform that will be a plus in the future although that takes time for that to happen.
He is advising therefore that rather than complain it would be better for companies to try to fix the variables over which they have some control.
Cash awards were presented to some contractors, distributors, and retailers who do business with Arawak. (JB)