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Minister might mediate

Minister responsible for the Fair Trading Commission, Donville Inniss, this morning hinted at the possibility of intervening on behalf of local manufacturers, now struggling to survive with “high” utility rates.  Delivering the keynote address to the inaugural Symposium on Innovation and Manufacturing, organised by his ministry at the Savannah Hotel in Hastings, Christ Church, Inniss made it clear that as minister responsible for the FTC, he had the right to make policy decisions in this regard.

“We of course need to give further support for energy efficient solutions and the talk around of course, is renewable energy. But the harsh reality is that our society and our manufacturing in particular, cannot go forward with the high utility rates that we currently are having to endure,” he noted.

“Of course, as minister responsible for the Fair Trading Commission I shall limit my comments on that at this time. But I’m sure that they and the Barbados Light & Power are very mindful that the minister has the right to make policy decisions that govern utilities in this country.” Inniss said rental rates for businesses in the industrial estates operated by the state-owned Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, had to be tackled as well.

“We also of course have to address the issue of rental rates; affordable rental rates, which of course, is a significant portion of one’s operation.

“I’m mindful of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation being the principle landlord for the manufacturing sector in Barbados; and of course, they’ve been given appropriate guidance there,” added the Cabinet member.

“What I will reiterated though to our tenants is that where the rates are deemed to be affordable, we expect that they will be paid and paid on time.”

He suggested that in order for the country to become more innovative, prospective business people must place greater emphasis on research and development and the use of “cutting-edge” production techniques and methods.

“The Government of Barbados, being cognisant of this imperative, is fully committed to creating the enabling environment; and we have certainly implemented a number of initiatives to promote an innovative culture by offering incentives to innovators for the development of their products, such as advanced education and training programmes, a number of concessions and indeed seed funding,” pointed out the minister.

“My ministry, through the BIDC, administers a technical assistance programme; and the core feature of that programme, is to enhance the productive capacity and the international capability to the manufacturing sector here in Barbados.

This, he explained, was aimed at making manufacturers more export oriented and globally competitive. Minister Inniss also suggested that more technical and moral support must be given to persons with innovative ideas.

He admitted though that too many obstacles were in the way of manufacturers.

“And we must work collectively … to remove any obstacles to businesses in this country. Far too often, we spend our time talking about getting financial assistance from Government to keep business going or to start businesses; but I am sure that one low-cost action, is our ability to remove the obstacles to doing business in this country.”

“There really are too many, I must confess that as a politician and as a minister; and quite frankly, a lot of the solutions are quite simple. A lot has to do with our attitude to those who use our services,” Inniss submitted. (EJ) 

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