Another price warning
Industrial action by Customs officers at the Bridgetown Port, have put a squeeze on some local manufacturers who have been incurring additional business costs as a result of lengthy delays getting goods cleared.
In a Barbados TODAY interview today, Bobbi McKay, executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA), put consumers on notice that the prices of some locally-made products might have to be increased.
The protest over the past month by Customs officers was meant to register dissatisfaction with a Government plan to absorb the Customs Department into the new Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
The situation was then compounded by the bitter dispute involving the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) that almost led to a general strike.
Customs officers upped their protest to a go-slow earlier this week in response to an NUPW call for solidarity with the terminated BIDC workers whose reinstatement the union was seeking.
McKay said while encountering delays clearing goods at the port was not a new experience for manufacturers, the imposition of high storage and demurrage fees was compounding the problem in this particular instance.
“Several people have been disadvantaged. It has taken some of them more than three weeks to get containers,” complained McKay, pointing out to the case of one manufacturer who has incurred thousands of dollars in storage fees.
“If this situation continues, they may not be able to absorb those fees and may have to pass them on to consumers,” the BMA executive director said.
However, noting there was ongoing discussion between importers and the authorities on the issue, McKay said some of the larger companies had already entered an arrangement where they were given between nine to 11 days before they incurred penalties.
Last month, officials of a leading supermarket chain, manufacturing plants and distribution agencies put Barbadians on notice that price increases and layoffs in some sectors were looming as a result of the action by Customs officers.
They also reported racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra storage and demurrage charges.