KINGSTON — Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon Karl Samuda, has said that more emphasis has to be placed on production, to increase Jamaica's industrial competitiveness.
“I think, in the past, not enough emphasis was placed on production, as a key factor in determining the extent to which we are competitive,” Mr. Samuda stated, prior to a tour of the 90-acre Red Stripe manufacturing plant on Spanish Town Road, Kingston on Friday.
“I think what happened in the past was that, with an interest rate policy that was conducive to investing in instruments rather than in production, Jamaica and Jamaican workers were robbed of a good and prosperous future,” Mr. Samuda argued.
He said that while the practice enriched those who had access to capital and were owners of capital, it placed the nation in an uncompetitive position, both within and outside the region. He added that the country continues to suffer from an unsustainable trade deficit, because locally manufactured goods are often not of the quality, price and consistency of supply to compete on the world market.
“Our competiveness has waned significantly over the past 20 years, and that is why, we are so anxious and enthusiastic about the direction and the path that we have chosen,” he added.
He noted that the government was committed to a policy of low interest rates, to remove the incentive for persons making fortunes without applying their capital to production, and to encourage banks and holders of capital to turn to the development of the manufacturing sector.
The Minister said he was particularly impressed with the quality, and emphasis, placed on production and productivity at the Red Stripe plant.
Mr. Samuda was escorted on the tour by the President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), Omar Azan, Managing Director of Diageo, Renato Gonzalez, Director of Sales, Brian Pengelley and Master Brewer, Devon Francis.
The tour included brew houses one and two, the control room, warehouse one, packaging and the brand new spirits bottling plant.
Supply Director, Cedric Blair, said that the new state-of-the-art bottling line has a production capacity of 3,600 bottles per hour, or 60 bottles per minute. He said brands such as Smirnoff Apple and Cranberry, and Gold Label rum, will be bottled at the site.
The new line will allow for an extension of Red Stripe’s spirits production capacity, improve quality control and reduce energy costs.
A total investment of US$1.8 million, Mr. Blair said the plant will contribute positively to Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and realize, at minimum, US$1.2 million return per annum for the beverage company.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter