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Pickup’s way to progress

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Pickup’s way to progress

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PRESIDENT of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA), Ian Pickup, is calling for a more efficient Bridgetown Port and a more understanding banking sector, both of which can redound to the benefit of the manufacturing industry.
He also lauded the removal of the Environmental Levy, saying that it was a “surprise” to the BMA, but was equally satisfied that no tax was placed on diesel.
Pickup was responding to Monday’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals 2010 delivered by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
“We have been heartened by the Minister’s comments on reducing the spread between deposits and saving rates in the banking sector, which has been far too high for far too long.
“We hope that the banking sector will heed the moral suasion of the minister and recognise the need to partner with the local business community in taking the country back to a growth path once again.”
Pickup said members of the BMA were “not holding our collective breath. And in the meantime we continue to pay rates that are multiples of those paid by our competitors overseas. This has to change”.
On the issue of the Port Authority, Pickup also said:  “We hope everyone, including the Port Authority, will heed the call of the minister to make their operation more efficient and reduce the cost of using the port, especially in areas of container handling where local importers pay in some cases twice as much as their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Fair grade
Pickup, joined by his executive director Bobbi McKay at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, gave the Budget a “fair” grade and said it was  generally accepted that it would not pass without inflicting some pain. He made reference to the increase in VAT by 2.5 % and said “the higher rate of VAT could have an adverse effect on companies’ ability to pass on some of these increase because with the VAT added the increases in prices might be just too much for consumers to bear. So from that point of view there is word of caution about the VAT”.
“The removal of the Environmental Levy was a surprise to us. The BMA has been lobbying very hard this year not to have the Environmental Levy imposed on locally produced goods even though we know that there are international obligations under the Treaty of Chaguaramus for levies to be applied equally, both on locally manufactured goods and imports. Our feeling was that there was no real pressure on us to impose a levy on locally manufactured goods.”
He said from the point of view of local manufacturing the removal of the levy altogether was welcome but “with the caveat that it will make imports a little more competitive. The other side of the coin is that if it is passed to the consumer it will alleviate the increase in the VAT”.
Pickup also said the US$50 million loan for the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC) was overdue and the BMA “would be carefully monitoring these funds to ensure that they are not wasted or spent on frivolous projects”. (JS)