Commerce Minister Donville Inniss has expressed his dissatisfaction over the state of the local manufacturing sector.
Stating he was concerned that it was still a sector that thrived on incentives from the state by way of high rates of duty on competing products coming in, the Minister maintained that once that type of environment continued ad infinitum, it could stifle creativity and not allow Barbadians to find their strengths in the industry.
He made these comments this morning while speaking to reporters after touring Good Time Snacks in Grazettes Industrial Park.
Maintaining that it was a work in progress and incentives could not be stopped overnight, Mr. Inniss noted that he was not sure that Barbadians appreciated what is produced locally and it was a marketing issue that needed to be addressed.
???We used to have a slogan called ???Buy Bajan???; the Barbados Manufacturing Association I know must be commended for that but I somehow feel as though we have slackened up a bit on that. It may be a case where people don???t know what is produced in Barbados and I don???t think that people appreciate the wide range that Good Time Snacks produces,??? he lamented.
The Commerce Minister added that another challenge faced in manufacturing was realising economies of scale. He explained that sometimes six companies were competing in the same industry with antiquated machinery, as none of them was able to invest in a new plant and equipment.
He said: ???They use the same old designs that they were using all along and that is why the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) is forging ahead with the cluster aspect of manufacturing where we can provide certainly in the food industry equipment that satisfy maybe six or seven different labels and that helps to drive the costs down whilst not compromising on quality.???
Therefore, Mr. Inniss urged local companies to target markets beyond Barbados??? shores. ???You cannot sit and believe that your business will grow by leaps and bounds just within a 166 square mile market and 300,000 people. There are many who quite frankly are afraid of??? stepping into other people???s markets and then we sit and complain when others get aggressive and come into our market,??? he pointed out.
Mr. Inniss gave the assurance that his Ministry would continue to address the major issues affecting the sector such as access to incentives, the rates of duty on raw material, investment in technology and, through the BIDC, continue to expand the export market.