With a view to better support and encourage manufacturers in Abaco and The Bahamas, Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Ryan Pinder, brought welcome news to producers that the Industries Encouragement and the Tariff Acts have been amended and that they will be setting up a standards bureau.
Mr. Pinder visited a variety of local manufacturers and producers on September 10 including Albury Brother’s Boat Builders, Albury’s Sail Shop, Abaco Big Bird and Abaco Neem, in order to get “an understanding of the concerns and also the opportunities that exist for these local manufacturers.”
“The end goal is to provide the necessary incentives for the success of the various businesses; to get an awareness of the types of manufacturing and industrial activity in The Bahamas and specifically here in Abaco… and how, from a policy maker’s point of view, we can work with them for their success,” he said.
He noted that the process of amending the Industries Encouragement Act and the Tariff Act to reinstate perpetual duty free exemptions for manufacturers is now complete and that the Customs Department has confirmed that they have received the changes and are operating under that change. Now producers can once again import their products on a duty free basis.
Mr. Pinder also spoke of working toward World Trade Organization compliance by establishing a standards bureau and standards regulations.
What this allows us to do is classify standards for different products; such as in the context of chicken at Abaco Big Bird. Chicken in the country has no standards ascribed by local law which puts a premium producer like Abaco Big Bird at a disadvantage because of market dumping of inferior products.
He said that having these standards would provide a framework for Bahamian producers to better compete and to keep inferior products out of the market which shouldn’t be in the market or at least label them as inferior.
“We’re one of the only countries that don’t have a certification for something like chicken,” he said. “It’s something that is important first for the consumer but also for the producer.”
Having a standards bureau would open up the doors for export as well as expand domestic linkages, he said. “Certain hotels might only buy a certified grade of chicken for their patrons because they have to ensure a certain standard.”
Mr. Pinder said that having a standards bureau and certifications could open up different opportunities for local producers both domestically and internationally in the context of trade. “So we’re very excited about progressing with the [standards bureau], in fact part of the [International Development Bank’s] trade loan we just signed has a component for financing a standards bureau and we’re committed to that process and completing it.”
As a result of his visit he will be identifying what incentive legislation each producer should be under. He noted that Albury Brothers is operating under the wrong tariff regime which is uncooperative with the scale of business they are doing.
He said he will be working hand-in-hand to ensure they are under the Industries Encouragement Act regime, ensuring “smoother operation for their business and give them the surety they need.” Mr. Pinder said “We want to see Albury Brothers once again be a solely Bahamian run and operated business.”
He said they are seeking to provide manufacturers with the policy and cooperation from the government’s point of view so that they have a predictable way of doing business and ultimately succeed.