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BMA wants ease

Trevor Yearwood

BMA wants ease

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THE problem-hit manufacturing sector is hoping Government will reconfigure fuel taxes to bring it some relief.
It is also appealing to Barbadians to “buy smart” and spend more of their cash on local products.
President of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) David Foster, and executive director Bobbi McKay raised the two issues yesterday during a Press briefing at the BMA’s Harbour Road, Bridgetown office on the June 10-13 BMEX trade exhibition.
Foster said that continuing rises in the price of fuel and other commodities had significantly increased the expenditure of local businesses, impacting their profit margins, and manufacturers needed some relief from Government.
“The Government needs to look at the whole structure that we currently have in terms of the excise taxes and stuff on fuel,” he told reporters.
“It impacts every part of our economy, from Barbados Light & Power right through to every industry.”
Foster, who took over the BMA leadership late last year, said that while manufacturing had improved to “a thriving, well-engineered, competitive and technologically-savvy industry”, a good deal of help was needed to overcome the many problems.
He said the problems included unfair competition, high taxes and a narrowing of the local market because of international competition.
Foster told reporters: “What the industry is seeking is the removal of several disadvantages that our manufacturers experience and to have a more level playing field.”
He said manufacturers “are facing increased local market access from the [Economic Partnership Agreements] and other treaties”.
In addition, there are “a wide range of products coming into Barbados which do not adhere to [International Labour Organisation] rules, countries that pay their workers as little as US$27 a month”, he charged.
Foster also complained that local manufacturers had to compete with a number of imported products “that do not even conform to local labelling requirements” – some not even bearing labels in English.
McKay said Barbadians needed to understand that whenever they bought a local product they helped to keep people employed and the wheels of development turning.
This had implications for the number of people struggling and also for the crime situation, she noted.
She said Barbados produced high-standard goods and locals should show more support for the manufacturing sector by buying them.