The local manufacturing sector still has a role to play in Grenada’s economic thrust. So says Ronald Theodore, CEO of the Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC) in an interview with the Barnacle – Grenada’s leading advertising and promotional publication.
Theodore indicated that while the recent drive over the last few years is to promote the growth sectors – tourism, health & wellness, ICT, agribusiness and energy – manufacturing still remains an important sector which provides a variety of jobs and therefore investments are encouraged. The newly revised incentive regime also offers attractive fiscal incentives for investment within the manufacturing sector.
More than three (3) decades ago, the government of the day established the Frequente Industrial Park as a base to develop manufacturing on the island. Today, thirty-four (34) years later, the manufacturing sector still faces many challenges as it endeavours to make its mark on the economy. The GIDC boss agrees that the sector has many issues; he thinks that there are several factors which contribute to this situation such as the cost of electricity, the size of our population and the need for manufacturers to become export ready.
Mr. Theodore continued by saying “our manufacturing entities are small however, they continue to make significant contributions in the area of job creation”. Theodore is hopeful that our existing manufacturing operations can grow and have greater success stories to report in the future. He added that there are many potential niche investment opportunities for the sector that can be explored on island. Some of these include manufacturing of teas, essential oils, beverages, bamboo products (dishes, furniture etc.) and condiments. Theodore encourages existing and potential entrepreneurs to give consideration to these opportunities. In addition, he reiterated that the GIDC through its investment facilitation and entrepreneurial development support system is ready to assist entrepreneurs within the sector.
Today, as manufacturing continues to limp along economically the GIDC CEO was asked this “As an organisation would you say that (GIDC) has done all that it can for the manufacturing sector?” His response was “I would say no, because, for the manufacturing sector to move, all players have to come together; it cannot be GIDC alone. There are about seventeen (17) key players within the investment generation system including GIDC and all must come together to make things work; we are only one. While we play a role in facilitating investments inclusive of facilitating the grant of fiscal incentives and advocating for policy changes, there is more need for the sector to grow.
The GIDC is convinced that manufacturing growth lies in the ability to break into external markets because Grenada does not have the economy of scale to successfully grow the sector. “I strongly believe that our manufacturing operations need to become export ready. There are many who are ready however, there is a need for many others to come on board. Additionally, there is a need for technical assistance and more hand-holding support. This will definitely require a combined effort of all key stakeholders because GIDC cannot do it alone.”
The CEO concluded the interview with this admonition “as it relates to the CSME, there exist opportunities for increased markets and enhanced potential for raw materials and labour. We will have to be strategic as to how we can benefit from this arrangement and other trade agreements for which we are singed onto. We can reap rewards if we adopt a strategic approach to taking advantage of these treaties.