Looking to the future
THE new President of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA), Robert Noel, says while there is no lack of innovation and creativity as it relates to local manufacturing, there is a need to put systems in place to help those ideas become successful.
He was speaking to reporters following the media launch of BMEX 2018 last week, as he said that new entrants to the sector need to join the BMA and work with entities such as the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), to get the correct guidance to help move their businesses, and by extension the sector as a whole, forward.
“Everybody needs to be guided, no one comes with all the answers… We have to rethink how we are doing things, so that we can all then start to build on that and become better. We want Barbados to be a better place, a bigger more productive island; we can’t just rely on one industry alone. All the small cottage industries, we need to start linking people with people, companies with companies so that we can build on this,” he said.
With that in mind, Noel disclosed that he intends to introduce new activities during his tenure as president, which are aimed at revitalising the membership of that umbrella body. His comments came as he noted that some members have been concerned that the association has not been doing enough for them over the last few years, and he wants to see that changed. The BMA official made the point while adding that steps will be taken to attract new members as well.
Noel, lamenting that the manufacturing industry has taken “some licks” for some time now, said the sector has not seen the interest from Government as they would have liked. That, he said, the BMA will be making every effort to rectify.
“This time around we are definitely going to be helping our manufacturing side beef up what we need to beef up, meet with the appropriate authorities at the different governmental organisations to try and get them the help they need to make it to the next level,” he said.
The president explained that the idea is to give manufacturing companies the assistance they need at whichever level it is required, whether it is at the start-up or export stage. Noel, adamant that there are great products in Barbados that just need the opportunity to fully develop, explained that such would assist the country to rely less on imported products.
In that vein, he said the sector still wants to see the back of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL). He stated that from the inception of the levy, manufacturers were hit hard, and that has had a slowing effect on their sales.
“We’ve been petitioning the Government to relook the NSRL set-up but we need to have that actually off so we can become more competitive with what is coming in from outside, especially nations like China or United States, where they have subsidised products that come in and can basically be a 100, 20, 40 per cent cheaper than we can produce it in Barbados…
“If we import everything, how are we going to employ our Barbadians, what are they going to purchase the goods with?” he queried. (JRT)