Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, has confirmed that government will continue to provide targeted assistance to the manufacturing sector.
This, he said, would be done through the Special Technical Assistance Programme, which is administered by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.
Minister Toppin was speaking at the launch of BMEX 2019, an annual exposition organized by the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA), which will be held from June 7 to 10 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
He outlined that the goals of the Special Technical Assistance Programme were to foster the development of a sustainable internationally competitive export sector, assist indigenous enterprises to develop and expand their local market share, and to assist enterprises to achieve independent financial sustainability.
There are several areas for support under the programme, which include diagnostic assessment/consultancy; human resource development including training and productivity enhancement; market research; product design and packaging; local and overseas promotions; plant upgrade consultation and operational redesign; product development; market development; international standards certification; sector enhancement programmes and small equipment grants.
Minister Toppin reported: “Almost $50 million have been disbursed from the fund over the 18 years of its administration. Some 414 companies have received direct benefit from this intervention to the tune of $25.9 million or 51.8 per cent of total disbursements. The competitive position of these companies was further strengthened through 35 sector initiatives to which the remaining $24 million were allocated.”
Amongst those initiatives were the development of condiments, crafts, fashion design, food and beverages, furniture, garments, jewellery, rum, animation, botanicals, the creative industries, music and the cruise sector.
Clients participated in trade missions, as well as local and overseas trade shows, such as Barbados Fashion Week, Caribbean Fashion Week, the Barbados Manufacturers’ Trade Exhibition and the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show.
“This long-standing exhibition (BMEX), which has been the premier platform for the introduction of exciting new products to the market has been a major beneficiary of support, with BDS$12.8 million or 26 per cent of those funds being channelled into the BMA BMEX Craft Enhancement Programmes,” he said, adding that BMEX provided local producers and service providers with an opportunity to interact with their publics, gain feedback, network, and be exposed to regional and international buyers.
He noted that the challenges which were currently being experienced had given greater impetus to government’s plans for reshaping the manufacturing landscape on the island.
“The near $12 million subvention by government to industry via the BIDC is intended to provide for the development of the indigenous manufacturing and service enterprises, in order to promote the export of Barbadian goods and services, and to foster entrepreneurial activity in the economy,” the Industry Minister said.