The importer of a container of chicken wings who so ruffled Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul, might have gone through the right channel after all.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said Wednesday night there was nothing to suggest that the yet unnamed importer circumvented the process.
“A cursory check with my staff has indicated that the only entity for who a licence has been issued to import chicken wings into Barbados is the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation and I have no reason to believe that was not followed,” Inniss told journalists on the sidelines of a Hennessy cocktail reception at Sandy Lane Resort.
The issue became a major talking point after Paul complained at a hastily called news conference last week that a wholesaler had been flooding the market with chicken wings imported independently of the BADMC. He also called on the Ministry of Trade, the Customs Department and the Ministry of Agriculture to explain the alleged circumvention of the process.
The matter gained even more prominence over the weekend after the authorities raided a property and destroyed several hundred pounds of wings.
An official source told Barbados TODAY on Monday that the container load of chicken wings was smuggled through the Bridgetown Port and had become the subject of a major fraud investigation by the Customs & Excise Department.
The source added the shipment, believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, did not have veterinary clearance and the business had not secured an import licence.
However, Inniss appeared to contradict them all, even as he promised that the relevant authorities would investigate the matter.
The minister is scheduled to meet this Friday with BAS officials and other stakeholders, but not with the importer that offended Paul.
In the meantime, he has asked Barbadians not to panic.
“I rather leave it at that for the time being until we have our discussions, but I don’t want people to panic on these matters. I am meeting with the stakeholders in the industry as requested by the Barbados Agricultural Society [representative] and others. I am not meeting with the entity or individuals who have been alleged to be involved in anything that my ministry is not a part of,” he said.
“At this point I will simply say there is a bigger issue that my ministry is looking at, which is ensuring that the mechanisms designed to ensure that there is no harm to the poultry industry are adhered to. That will be a combined effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and their state agencies and the private enterprises involved in the industry and my ministry,” Inniss added.
The minister also made it clear he would not point fingers at the individual or company believed to be involved in the matter, insisting he was interested only in the facts.
“So let us bring the parties together and in so doing, if the poultry industry is of the view that harm is being done to the industry, then let us address that issue. On the other hand, as minister responsible for Consumer Affairs I also have to look at it from the perspective of consumers. So let us wait until Friday and have our conversation and then do any reporting that we need to do,” Inniss stressed.