The importance of buying local goods was reiterated by Executive Director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, Bobbi McKay recently.
She said there was evidence to show that “the playing field is not level and sometimes there is actual evidence of foul play”.
“We alone, are to blame; we have free will…, we make our choices and often it is not in our own best interest,” she said.
The BMA’s Executive Director noted that for more than 12 years their banner has been “Buy Bajan First, Support Local” and while they were “pleased that there is evidence of change in the level of awareness and in behavior patterns of many Barbadians …” there was still “a very long way to go”.
“If we are completely honest, at the heart of what we are striving to overcome is an absence of national pride and consciousness coupled with some measure of selfishness. We all desire, enjoy, and aspire to have the high standard of living that is possible in Barbados, yet we fail to really consider what needs to happen, and to be in place, to ensure or even guarantee that standard of living,” she said.
McKay noted that the BMA’s message has been “to support local first and foremost to protect Barbadian jobs and to support the development and growth of our national economy”.
“Time and time again we have said, ‘When you choose foreign goods over local goods you are increasing our import bill, depleting our foreign reserves, not only putting Barbadians out of work but exporting jobs and growing the economies of other countries that are more developed and more robust than ours’.
“In our selfishness and perpetual blindness we don’t see that when we choose foreign over local we are responsible for businesses closing doors and sending people home; having people working three days a week because we choose to purchase a competing import. We don’t realise that it is a vicious cycle and eventually it will come back around to impact us and our families. It is just a matter of time. So when we talk about strengthening the bonds we must reflect on strengthening the bonds of national pride,” she said.
McKay noted there was a need to continue sensitising and educating Barbadians about the consequences of their choices.
“When you choose foreign, you are really choosing foreign; choosing them over our very own development. It has to stop, it is not a choice, it is imperative. We are digging our own graves of we continue in this vein. We have people being sent home on a regular basis and this will only increase.
“How do we stop this trend? We stop allowing people to flood our country with cheap, watered down, low quality products just because they appear to have a lower price. Imports from countries where industrial estates, utilities and even the Port are all heavily subsidized.
“We do not know the conditions under which these products have been produced nor the quality of the materials with which they have been made. Get serious. We stop the trend by choosing a brown bottle rather than a green one when we want a refreshing beer. We choose local crackers, local juices and local furniture rather than those made somewhere else in the world.
“We stop the trend by paying close attention to the labels and realising that just because it is being sold in Barbados does not mean that it is made in Barbados. As I often say, locally sourced is not locally made,” she asserted.
She emphasised the need for Barbadians to stop buying imported partially or fully processed poultry, “to stop supporting imported burgers when three local processors are on their knees trying to compete and maintain employment” and “to stop buying mango slices in syrup and sweet tamarinds from over and away and enjoy our own fresher and healthier produce”.
“And we stop by realising when we are comparing prices we have to be comparing apples with apples. For example, one bottle of imported dishwashing liquid may cost $5 and the local brand may cost $5.50, but when you are smart enough to read the label and do the comparison you may see that the foreign brand offers 750 millilitres while the local brand may be offering one litre. Make sure that when we compare we are comparing apples with apples and not apples with oranges,” said the executive director. (DS)