Business briefs

Barbados agri sector looking up

The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) is claiming modest accomplishments in the country’s agricultural sector against the backdrop of what is generally felt to be few if any strides by Caricom countries to reduce the region’s huge food import bill by doing more to energize their agricultural sectors.

BAS General Manager James Paul said at the end of the country’s two-day Agrofest earlier this week that “to some extent Barbados has been able to get farmers to grow more food and that the agricultural sector continues to play a critical role “as far as the development of the Barbados economy is concerned.” Paul said that Barbados has seen an increase in the output of vegetables and other non-sugar agricultural crops.

Other Caricom countries forging
ahead with small business support

Even as the interminable delay in giving meaningful effect to Guyana’s seven year-old Small Business Act, other countries in the region are forging ahead, with bilateral and multilateral support in the setting up of local small business institutions.

The Organization of American States (OAS) announced earlier this week that it was collaborating with the US Government to establish small business development centres in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and St Lucia, an initiative which the OAS says aims at helping improve the competitiveness of small companies in those countries.

The Guyana Small Business Act was passed in the National Assembly in 2004 though, since then, the structures and funding envisaged in the Act have failed to materialize, a circumstance that has led to negative comments in the small business sector.

TCL strike triggers local
cement watch

Fears of a serious cement and ready mix shortage that could bring a halt to the construction sector in Trinidad and Tobago have arisen in the face of a strike by the 600-odd workers of Trinidad Cement Ltd called on Monday by the Oil Workers Union, the bargaining agent for the company’s workers.

In the wake of the strike TCL’s cement distribution operations in Guyana have issued a statement in which it says that it has moved to forestall a cement shortage here by importing 5,200 metric tons, the equivalent of ten days stock, from its sister company in Jamaica. The local company says that the move to import cement from Jamaica “is the beginning of a cycle which will ensure regular shipments from Jamaica until the normal supply chain is resumed.” Additionally, local cement consumers have been informed that Arawak Cement Company of Barbados will also be supplying cement to Guyana.

These assurances notwithstanding, the local construction sector, which is busy at this time will be eyeing the situation carefully given reports from Port of Spain that unless TCL improves its 7 per cent wage increase offer to its employees its production plants at Claxton Bay and Mayo could remain close for as long as ninety days.

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