Government recognises its role as the provider of an enabling environment to allow businesses to thrive, and will be ensuring that this is applicable to the marine environment.

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, stressed this yesterday as he addressed a cocktail reception to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Eric Hassell and Son Ltd., at Champers, Worthing, Christ Church.

Mr. Inniss said that in terms of shipping and the marine environment, Government???s role was to make it easier for the sector to be able to strike up partnerships and receive customer goods through the port.

Acknowledging the company???s relationship with Government and its work with the Caribbean Shipping Association, he noted the outstanding contribution its Managing Director, Erica Luke, had made to that particular body, as well as to the domestic Shipping Association.

Looking to the future, the Commerce Minister told management and staff of the shipping agent that Government was committed to continuing to improve operations in the Bridgetown Port, like the separation of cargo from passengers; making greater use of technology within the port; and getting goods out quickly.

The Minister also touched on the issue of inter-island trade and said this could not be discounted. Urging those gathered to reflect on the how it could be revived, he lamented: ???I am very concerned that it is so much easier to get an item out of Miami into Bridgetown than it is to get something from Castries or St. Vincent into Bridgetown.

“We really must do better. A well-structured, well-financed and smoothly-operated inter-island shipping arrangement can speak volumes to improvements in our economy. And, I know that Eric Hassell and Son Ltd. can play a meaningful role in making that happen.???

Managing Director, Erica Luke, echoing similar sentiments said: ???The decline of the inter-island schooner trade, which was at one time the principle mode of transport for both cargo and passengers, sadly mirrors the current state of our regional economic cooperation.

???The inter-island trade represents an opportunity, both for bulk exports like limestone and cement, and also for imports of fruits and other agricultural produce from our regional neighbours. We look forward to the facilitation and revitalisation of this vital link within our region.???

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