Barbados’ manufacturing and construction sectors must work together for the sake of the country’s development.
This was the admonition of Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, as he addressed the opening of the 2012 Manufacturers’ Forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.
Kellman said: “Very often, in my dialogue with the manufacturing community, there is the repeated concern about the demand for foreign products, imported by large establishments, particularly within the tourism sector and the upscale housing market, who believe that they must get all the concessions and ignore the local market…
“This trend has resulted in reduced demand for similar high quality products produced right here in Barbados. The most notable sub-sector impacted by this occurrence is the furniture industry. It is generally understood that firms operating in the manufacturing sector do not operate at full capacity and now currently due to the dampening effects the global recession work under on-demand conditions.
“Some firms have even temporarily closed their doors with the expectation that demand will improve in the not-too-distant future. However, the sector can reach a better position if it receives a boost from the number of construction projects around the island,” Kellman suggested.
The minister suggested that the pleas of those in manufacturing to be allowed to produce for some of the island’s major construction projects were going unheard.
The main reasons given, he added, had to do with consistent levels of style and quality, as well as price, imploring the sectors to “collaborate and cooperate for the sake of Barbados’ developmental agenda”.
He further called on “members of academia” to assist in developing systems that facilitate collaboration between the groups to help take full advantage of local resources.
“There is a wide and diverse creative think tank that exists within the manufacturing community that remains untapped simply because such enterprises lack the financial resources to procure the wherewithal required to test their product ideas. They also lack the know-how to transform their ideas into commercial endeavours…
“It is my belief that an industrial policy which serves to provide practical mechanisms, through which the birthing of new product ideas may be recognised, is pertinent to the national development agenda of Barbados. By embracing this approach we are certain to discover new innovative products which would help to diversify Barbados’ product base and by extension lend to greater employment creation activities.
“Another element implicit in the development of a national industrial policy is the need to develop the human resource base on which it will be founded. Undoubtedly, education is the basis for change in any society, if this sector is to be transformed to produce the needed results particularly in the area of operational efficiency,” said Kellman. (LB)