One of the Caribbean’s oldest established commercial bakeries is pleading with Government to implement “aggressive” strategies to help the manufacturing sector stay afloat.
The 105-year-old West India Biscuit Company Limited (WIBISCO) has contended that local manufacturers are losing out to foreign competitors because the environment here is not sufficiently enabling.
“I am making an appeal for an aggressive Governmental strategy to encourage capital investment, speed up customs and port processes, reduce the landed cost of inputs and provide a tiered taxation relief schedule to enable companies which earn foreign exchange to plough money back into their businesses,” general manager Adrian Padmore said today at a service at the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church on Whitepark Road, St Michael to mark the company’s 105th anniversary.
“Because Barbados has left room, there is now no shortage of Bajan Style Pepper Sauce made in Thailand, St Lucia and Jamaica. If producers do not or cannot continue to invest in methods to lower their costs, supported by a deliberate Government policy not simply to protect, but more importantly to create export market access and encourage foreign exchange generation, Barbados will very soon have no manufacturing sector.”
The WIBISCO boss also recommended that Government “take manufacturers on the road to find distributors in new markets”, and called for assistance with the “enormous cost” related to entering new markets through income tax relief, partial reimbursement schemes “and other creative means.”
“Let us take the same approach which was taken to build the international business sector. In addition, incentives to help manufacturers to increase export are essential at this time.
“At WIBISCO, on the dawn of our 105th anniversary, we have no choice. We have jobs to protect and a century-long legacy to preserve. But we can no longer do it alone, nor can the other producers in Barbados. We will continue to lead, but help is needed . . . and it is needed now,” he said.
Earlier Padmore told the congregation which included chairman of WIBISCO David Bynoe and director Robin Bynoe that for 65 years the company was one of the first businesses to export and build a reliable source of foreign exchange for Barbados.
He further stated that over the past 15 years management has continually re-engineered the business to ensure that it would remain competitive, innovative, entrepreneurial and nimble.
Meanwhile, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss disclosed that during the last financial year WIBSCO exported $13 million worth of products.
Inniss also said that the local bakery has effectively penetrated 20 markets across the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The minister stated that WIBISCO exports 60 per cent of what it produces, saying this was “by no means an ordinary feat.” He however expressed concern that WIBISCO’s products are not served at Government functions and suggested that something needed to be done to correct this situation.