Food chains such as Subway and Burger King and other internationally-rated companies are more than welcome to set up their businesses in Barbados.

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, said that Barbados must recognise that it has to open its doors ???to those who wish to come here to engage in legitimate business including those in what is the flavour of the day, fast food operations… We have to open our markets.???

He made these comments to members of the media as he updated them on the latest developments within his Ministry during a press conference, at his Reef Road office yesterday afternoon.

The Minister stressed that the country could not and must not operate in a myopic manner, that whatever was foreign was not good. This mindset, he noted, would only frustrate the owners of enterprises who wished to operate in Barbados, while adding that Government was currently examining ways in which the local industries could produce more of the inputs these companies needed to operate successfully.

He pointed out that last May due to complaints from businesses, his Ministry agreed to put together a team headed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Bentley Gibbs. It also comprised representatives from manufacturers, processors, importers, fast-food franchise operators and the various Ministries involved.

Further elaborating that they were given a three-month deadline in which to review all matters and make recommendations to the Ministry, Mr. Inniss said that the report was now before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to deliberate.

???I cannot at this point in time tell you if the rates will go up or go down???The truth of the matter is that it has been a very good exercise that has enlightened both sides of the table and I am satisfied that at the end of the day, the decision that will be taken will be in the best interest of most persons and entities,??? he asserted.

He further added: ???I cannot as Minister responsible for International Business say on one hand that we need more companies to come here and engage in international business ???And then through the other side of my mouth say, well, let us block the Subways and Burger Kings and others from coming around here.???

Stressing, however, that he sees all of these companies as foreign direct investment that the State needs, the Minister maintained that the situation must be ???judiciously managed??? against any threats to our local industry, i.e.: manufacturing and agro-processing.

???Look to see what our local industrialists can do to provide the kinds of products and services that meet the demand of those coming here, so that it is a win win situation for all. So, I believe that over the next three weeks we will come to a final decision on that particular matter and I will also say though that since that matter came to the fore we have been requested by the private sector to address the rates of duties of other meat products that are used in industry and that too is being addressed at the same time??? So, within three weeks we will have a final resolution on that???,??? he declared.

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