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Prime Minister Freundel Stuart officially opens??BMEX??last??Friday, while??Denis Kellman, Minister of Industry,??Small Business and Rural??Development watches. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

Government is currently meeting with stakeholders in the manufacturing sector to map out a strategy to get it on a path to progress and sustainability. To this end, a Manufacturers’ Forum will be held later this year.

This was asserted by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he addressed the opening ceremony of BMEX 2012 last Friday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He told the manufacturers on hand that the sector remained one of the main contributors to the country’s development, especially in the areas of foreign exchange and job creation, representing over 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2010.

"Approximately 300 companies operating in 2010 were responsible for producing an estimated $900 million worth of food, goods, electronic components, garments and chemicals, and further creating an additional BDS$1.35 billion for the economy," Mr. Stuart noted.

Concerning the barriers identified by the stakeholders to the sector, including transportation, high port charges, inconsistencies in the classification of raw materials by the Customs and Excise Department and high energy costs, the Prime Minister said that government would be working assiduously, over the next few months, to eliminate, or "at least reduce the impact of these barriers".

He continued: "We will also be paying attention to business practices within the sector which promote unfair competition. We will review current legislation and make amendments and introduce new legislation where necessary. In the medium-term, all initiatives will be clearly framed within a new industrial policy which the Industry Unit of the Ministry of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development will prepare."

Identifying the several measures put in place to stimulate the sector, he cited the Small Business Development Act which was created to allow enterprises to attain "approved small business status".

"This status allows those qualifying to pay corporation tax at the reduced rate of 15 per cent and to be exempted from import duties on plant, equipment and raw materials to be used in business. These enterprises also benefit from technical assistance in the form of a $50,000 grant every three years to further develop their businesses.

"For the bigger companies there is special technical assistance available through the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation. Through this facility, funds are provided to assist companies, among other things, with marketing, training and the procurement of equipment. This category of enterprise can also benefit from the facility provided through the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited," he stated.

The Prime Minister congratulated Banks (Barbados) Breweries Ltd. for successfully penetrating the United Kingdom market and noted that this augured well for the future.

Awards were given to three pioneers in the field: Carl Sylvester of Pine Hill Dairy Limited; Ralph Johnson of Harris Paints; Barbados Ltd. and Louis Forde of LA Forde Logistics, for their many years of outstanding service. The annual exhibition of the best in local products and services concluded yesterday.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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