Government is not anticipating any new major manufacturing companies here anytime soon.
Minister of Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has concluded that the signs are clear that the large-scale manufacturing seen here two to three decades ago was being replaced by the service industry.
“I hold the view that the type of manufacturing that had existed 20 or 30 years ago is not going to come back to Barbados. It has to be a lot more service oriented. And that is why I said to BIDC [Barbados Investment and Development Corporation], ‘you have to take some of your space and retrofit them to accommodate the new kinds of industries we are having,’” Inniss told a recent meeting of the Small Business Association (SBA) at Bagnall’s Point Gallery at the Pelican Craft Centre in Bridgetown.
The minister’s comment was in response to an assertion by the newly elected SBA President Dean Straker, who had earlier said the days of large manufacturing companies operating in Barbados were over.
Straker had therefore called on the authorities to give greater support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), contending they had an important role to play in turning around the struggling economy.
“I think the days of large manufacturing companies in this island are over . . . . The focus at this time of this prolonged recession must be stabilization and sustainable measures to ensure micro, small and medium enterprises can survive . . . .The sustainability measures should include access to markets and capacity building,” the new head of the island’s representative body for micro, small and medium enterprises told the meeting.
“We call for the appropriate legislation to be put in place to facilitate the commerce activity. This is a catalyst to earn foreign exchange and grow market share. I firmly believe that one of the ways to turn the Barbados economy around is the success of the small businesses. We must encourage more people to become entrepreneurs and start their own ventures. This in turn will lead to more opportunities and employment for Barbados,” Straker added.
He said there was need for less Government bureaucracy, improved regulatory systems and mechanisms to make it easier for SMEs to access financing.
In addition, Straker called for a review of the Trade Receivables Liquidity Facility, also known as the factoring programme, which was introduced in 2011 to make it easier for businesses to receive payments for goods and services provided to Government.
The SBA head also asked Inniss to push the Freundel Stuart administration to reserve at least 40 per cent of Government procurement for the sector.
Acknowledging that the small business sector was critical to the growth and sustainability of the local economy, Inniss said newly developed policy framework would help to guide the sector over the next ten years.
In addition, he gave the assurance that several steps were being taken to support the growth of the sector including the possibility of “removing or altering parts” of the Companies Act to make it easier and cheaper for individuals to incorporate a company.
“I believe as a matter of principle we have reached the stage in Barbados where we shouldn’t need an attorney-at-law to sign off on incorporation documents at the Corporate Affairs office,” Inniss said to applause.