Local first option

subwayinthecityBarbados Agricultural Society boss James Paul is confusing his onions and tomatoes. “Absolute nonsense” was how two businessmen responsible for bringing American restaurant franchise Subway here almost three years ago reacted to the BAS CEO’s recent criticism of “international franchises” operating in Barbados, saying they earned income from Barbadians but did not buy local.

Alfundi Investments Limited Frederick George and Simon Elias today provided Barbados TODAY with documentation to prove Subway purchased hundreds of pounds of vegetables grown by local farmers and a substantial amount of ham each month from Barbadian manufacturer HIPAC.

“We use local tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and onions. Obviously you know sometimes because of the weather they sometimes might not be available, but the first option is always local,” Elias said.

“In total we use 457 pounds of local cucumbers each month at both of our branches, 375 pounds of local onions, 1,196 pounds of local tomatoes, and 538 pounds of sweet peppers, all local and this is on a monthly basis. Obviously it varies according to the time of year and so on.

“We use 71 cases of HIPAC local ham a month. So in other words we use close to a thousand pounds of local ham a month, all of our ham is local. We also spoke to HIPAC and they want to try to develop some of the other meats and we gave them the okay to do it. Obviously once they do it, it will be a process of getting the guys from Trinidad to get it approve and it takes a little time, but the fact of the matter is we do get local meats and are trying to get more as time goes on,” the Barbados Subway franchisee added.

Elias and George also pointed out that Subway operated its own bakery, producing all of the bread it used and “increasing employment because we have more workers employed to bake bread”.

George said Paul “doesn’t know what was happening, he is just blurting out things”.

“He has never asked us ‘Hey fellas what are you all doing?’. It is a local company with local directors, local workers, what nonsense is he talking about? It gets you very irritated when people make statements that are not substantiated with facts, they just make blatant statements… We buy local first when it’s available,” he said.

“Don’t make these kinds of statements unless you know and you have checked it out… With Mr. Paul as far as I am concerned the concern is not about what is good for Barbados overall, the concern here is to see about the Agricultural Society and to be a big boy with them, a lovable person, that’s all, but if he was really sincere about taking care of Barbados he should come and meet with people. We are playing a part too, retailers and producers are playing a part.

“Surely we can find a situation which is balanced where you can have a win-win situation for both to survive, both to employ people and both to be happy. But don’t come and say things like if you have just come down from Mars suddenly.

We are selfish people? What nonsense is he talking? Wake up man, it is 2013, this is not the 1960s,” George said.

The businessman said while he understood Paul’s “determination to come to the aid of farmers and meat and poultry processors”, he “is not being helped to the progress of the inland when he marks misleading statements to the effect that fast food franchise businesses are selfishly earning income but not buying local products”.

The BAS official’s comments were made last month during the Estimates Debate in the House of Assembly.

“A lot of them, their business model is not designed to buy local supplies. And I want to say to them they cannot expect to come into this country Barbados, expect Barbadians to spend their hard earned dollars with them and turn around and look at the same Barbadians and tell them ‘We can’t buy nothing from you!’,” Paul said.

“Look to buy local because that is how we will keep employment going and I want to hear the Opposition speak to that, … but it has got to be a Barbadian first under these circumstances. You can’t hold water in your mouth, let them know that when they come here they have to buy Barbados first, that is how we maintain employment.

“It is all well and good to think that you earn the most money, but at the same time if the people out there ain’t have jobs who are going to buy the things that you are bringing in? We need a new approach in this a country that seeks to create greater harmony in terms of the approaches to development between Government and between the private sector,” he added. (SC)

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