The decline in the local manufacturing sector is one of the
major worries facing Government as it prepares the budget
for the next fiscal year.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance Conrad Enill told the
Business Guardian that he has begun accepting submissions
from interest groups for the 2006/2007 budget.
He said, One of the major issues facing Government is
that of the decline of the manufacturing sector and how do
we ensure that the manufacturing sector ceases to decline
and instead expands.
Enill said there was a recent study done by the World Bank
on the competitiveness of T&Ts manufacturing sector
which revealed that the sector was operating at near capacity
and something needed to be done to increase capacity.
that study demonstrated to us was that there was little room
for expansion. The manufacturing sector is changing in T&T
with some manufacturers choosing to move away from being manufacturers
to become distributors. So we have to deal with that,
The minister added, There is no doubt that local manufacturers
continue to control the region but they need to find more
markets and we are trying to help them with market access.
But one of the things we also recognise is that there is a
need for a new wave of manufacturers because at the end of
the day that is the best bet to ensure that the countrys
economy continues to perform well.
Enill said Government was hopeful that the establishment of
metals and plastics industries would ensure that a new wave
of manufacturers emerges.
Crucial to the development of these new manufacturers will
be the construction of the aluminium smelters and an ethylene
President of the T&T Manufacturers Association Paul
Quesnel agrees with Enills observation of the shift
from manufacturing to distribution and about the ill effects
that would have on the economy.
He said apart from greater market access, Government has to
fix the regulatory bodies.
need to fix our Plant Quarantine, our Bureau of Standards
our Food and Drugs Administration. All have to be properly
equipped and staffed. Most of these agencies do not have proper
equipment and staff, Quesnel said.
He said none of the agencies were IT ready. He explained that
standards had to be world class standards and there needed
to be a standardised regime of standards for Caricom goods.
Quesnel said regional institutions must be properly staffed
and funded so that everybody in the region has the same standards.
He added that Customs was also a major problem with a lack
of implementation of the Asycuda world system.
He said, The Asycuda system has not been implemented
yet and that is of vital importance. We need to be trading
under information that is common with specific numbers and
through the Asycuda system we can have a database on Caricom
partners import and can access that information to form good
Quesnel said he supported Governments attempts to build
metals and plastics industries but felt timing would be crucial
to ensure that manufacturers take advantage of the opportunities.
manufacturing a major part of cost is packing costs and if
we are able to produce for ourselves and for the world at
large packaging material be it polyethylene, or film will
give ourselves a competitive advantage, Quesnel said.
He said this was based on an assumption that the primary cost
to the manufacturer would be less than they can import the
T&T had to ensure that it doesnt put the cart before
the horse so that local manufacturers form companies before
the bulk of the stuff is exported, Quesnel warned
He said manufacturers must set up companies to use the raw
materials produced locally and he hoped they would be ready
to step forward.