Shots fired

Local manufacturers not taking kindly to Sandiford-Garner’s comments

A suggestion this week by Government Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner that the island had no real manufacturing to speak of has not gone down well with key players in that sector.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Sandals job fair on Tuesday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Sandiford-Garner said the response by thousands of people was not a negative reflection on the employment situation on the island.

The outspoken senator went on to state that Barbados was “an economy that does not have any manufacturing element”.

“We don’t export anything, [and] we are not planting,” argued Sandiford-Garner, who was at the time the Acting Minister of Tourism.

However, executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay has shot back at her, saying nothing could be further from the truth.

McKay has also sought to warn the tourism official that the island “cannot stand on one leg alone”.

In fact, based on a University of the West Indies (UWI) study, she pointed out that every job in manufacturing, creates two jobs in services.

Executive director of the BMA, Bobbi McKay.
Executive director of the BMA, Bobbi McKay.

“We already know the benefits. We have manufacturers who already provide hotels with strong food and beverage products. We are now looking to increase the number of furniture and other products in the form of cleaning and others that we sell to the tourism industry. So we have to work hand in hand,” said McKay.

Noting that members of the association were generally not pleased with Sandiford-Garner’s comments, she complained that too often in Barbados people refer to manufacturers as just businesses, and do not see the industry for what it is.

McKay made specific reference to the local conglomerate Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), saying the island had manufacturers that were also in the export business and as a result were raking in millions of dollars in foreign exchange for the country each year.

“I am not confrontational but we can show the millions and millions of dollars that manufacturing generates,” said McKay.

“When they think of manufacturers they don’t think of the pharmaceutical companies, Banks, Pinehill or Hipac, for example. They think of them as big businesses. When you think of manufacturers they might think of the little businesses that are having a tough time. So they don’t understand that these big businesses are also manufacturers. Maybe it was an honest mistake that she [Sandiford-Garner] made,” McKay added.

The BMA president further pointed out that major manufacturing companies, such as BHL, Lenstec, Carlisle Laboratories, Arawak Cement, Williams Industries, and Roberts Manufacturing, accounted for the island’s major exports over the past five years.

Of the overall export figure, the pharmaceutical sector accounted for over US$46 million last year. The beverage, optics and mining sectors also contributed over US$52 million, US$23 million and $21 million respectively, according to McKay.

Industry records further show that vegetables and animal fat products raked in over US$12 million last year, while the cereal and confectionary sectors earned US$9 million and $8 million respectively.

“We take responsibility for not educating people more about what we do and the amount of foreign exchange that we save,” said McKay.

“We have smaller companies that may not be exporting as much, but what they manufacture are things that we do not need to import. Therefore it gives us strong import replacement.

“To make the linkages it comes right back to supporting our own because no matter what product it is . . . the more we support our local producers . . . we could take some of the guys off the block,” she added.

In relation to tourism being the industry to drive the economy forward,  She said what was needed was greater local support for Barbadian manufactured items so they could in turn employ more people and for all sectors working in conjunction.

14 Responses to Shots fired

  1. Margaret Lorde
    Margaret Lorde October 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Irene is not to be taken seriously. Typical foot in mouth tactic we’ve all seen before and have grown tired of.

    • Ryan Bayne
      Ryan Bayne October 11, 2014 at 1:09 am

      Yuh right to blister she, Margaret. Irene talking too much goat milk these days.

    • Margaret Lorde
      Margaret Lorde October 11, 2014 at 7:18 am

      I’m not blistering her I’m actually shaking my head as to the consistent malarkey which finds its way out of the mouths of government officials into the public domain. Randomly issued statements they would do well not making because really no one is amused by their obvious disconnect from reality and at times just plain pugnaciousness.

  2. Simon Gooding
    Simon Gooding October 11, 2014 at 2:26 am

    …Ha….what the minster said ….is the truth about the manufacturin in lil Buhbaydus….we import more than we produce…thats been goin on here for a looong time …nothing change ….nothing strange…..

    • Ron Murr
      Ron Murr October 11, 2014 at 4:34 am

      She is correct… but she has not offered any solution or suggestion that would effectively turn this around… to just say “we don’t do this or we don’t do that” is not a suggestion… draw up a proper plan and propose that it be policy to take us forward.

  3. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne October 11, 2014 at 3:19 am

    Apparently the Senator does not understand that tourism shares many of the challenges of our manufacturing sector, the major one being competitiveness. A tin of milk or pound of sugar manufactured in Barbados or a vacation in Barbados can be procured regionally or internationally much cheaper than in Barbados. As a part of the government the Senator should spend more of her time crafting a strategic way forward for a small open economy like ours instead of silly statements. The entrance of Sandals into our tourism market place with all the concessions granted should be an indication to the Senator that tourism in Barbados is on life support, and local manufacturing is in need of similar intervention, providing that is as strategic as we can get. Critical and creative thinking is indeed scarce in that “political class”.

    • Ron Murr
      Ron Murr October 11, 2014 at 4:31 am

      This is why the current government is rated as the worst ever that Barbados has seen… a lot of long foolish talk and no proper plans or policies to deal with the issues effectively.

    • Randy Hartman
      Randy Hartman October 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

      well put.. i was just going to use profanity and call people names.. but you.. .. thanks ))

  4. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce October 11, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Work the land plant more Sugar Cane. Barbados Sugar sells well in the UK and we can’t get enough out here. The product is sold out within days. I am a descendant of a Barbadian Cane Cutter that raised and educated her entire family from the land.

    • Ron Murr
      Ron Murr October 11, 2014 at 4:37 am

      You don’t get enough of our sugar because the UK has a deal with someone else somewhere else… the Caribbean has basically “lost the contract” with Europe.

  5. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce October 11, 2014 at 4:58 am

    World Trade policies pushed by the US does a lot of damage to the Caribbean with regards to exporting Rum, Sugar and Bananas because they are protecting the US growers/ farmers who control the market in Latin America. We are now seeing more Barbados Rum on the shelves re: France.

  6. Dissatisfied. October 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Why do we bother to take her serious? It is clear she is out of her depth, never prepares nor read and like Donville trying hard for little recognition and ligitimecy …

  7. Queenie ShaSha
    Queenie ShaSha October 11, 2014 at 7:33 am

    i wud take irene over george payne as st andrew rep anyday cuz he hasnt beem seen since elections…hes only there cuz some ppl can b bought and sold for a vote ….augar industry is dead and gone …and tourism is gone too no major attractions here anymore barbados is becoming boring and stagnant cuz no creative minds exist at the top ..everything is book sense …

  8. Kelita Kellman October 12, 2014 at 5:52 am

    One of the major issues facing Barbados today is that we are not making adequate use of the resources we already have at our disposal.

    Both parties mentioned in the above article have valid points: the manufacturing industry should be focussed on more and if given a strong foundation, could be a source of revenue and much needed jobs in Barbados.

    Barbados has a huge thing going for it in terms of tourism, instead of money being spent on building structures and contributing to other things that there is no foreseeable return on, advertising Barbados for what it is! a tourist destination could see an increase in the tourism economy.

    Instead of bantering over what “could be” focus on what IS and how you can make it better for everyone involved.


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