Owner of River Bay Trading and President of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, Ian Pickup (right), explains an aspect of garment production to Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick during a tour yesterday. At left is Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry and Commerce,??Ernesta Drakes.

Government may be looking to play the leading role in establishing an import/export bank in Barbados to assist businesses with exporting their products overseas.

Word of this has come from the Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, during a press conference at Millworks Inc, Spring Hall, St. Lucy, yesterday.

He suggested that Government might aim to provide the initial financing to start up such an operation, and also hinted at future joint venture arrangements to assist in sustaining it. "I think it is the role of Government to fund it [merchant bank] and if we, therefore, have to go into a joint venture arrangement, then we will do so. If we have to fund it directly, then we will do so, because we believe that this is the best way that we can drive our export thrust and give our exporters the opportunity to enter the bigger markets," he emphasised.??

Noting that some Asian and developed countries no longer relied on commercial banks to dictate their pace of development, the Minister said:??"We can’t rely on the commercial banks to drive our export thrust. I feel that the examples of Vietnam, Korea, Ireland and many other Asian countries show that small states need to take a more frontal role in determining the future development of their business sector."

Dr. Estwick also alluded to a closer collaboration between the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation and the National Council for Science and Technology in tackling some of the problems faced by entrepreneurs.

The Economic Affairs Minister also spoke about legislative changes for the small, micro and medium-sized business environment; a move which should result in greater efficiencies in the sector.

"The existing Small Business Act does not speak directly to micro enterprise, and the small business incentive programmes are not really designed for micro enterprise. So, we have to create new legislation for this. We also have a business development window that creates grant financing for micro enterprise and we are looking at adjusting this as well."

Dr. Estwick further stated that: "We need to get those funds into the hands of the people who need them and we need to do so now more urgently within this economic crisis. When you have a crisis, you have to turn internally to your own production base," he explained.??

Dr. Estwick, along with Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Bentley Gibbs and Ernesta Drakes, respectively, along with Executive Director and President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA), Bobbi McKay and Ian Pickup, and other BMA officials were on tour of River Bay Trading and Island Blends in Wildey Industrial Park, St. Michael.


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