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Opposition MP accuses gov’t of competing with agro processor

Opposition MP accuses gov’t of competing with agro processor

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An opposition legislator has accused the government of competing with a major agro-processor who recently told SEARCHLIGHT she has scaled back operations because of declining orders.{{more}}

Erica McIntosh, owner of Erica’s Country Style, told SEARCHLIGHT this month that local, regional and international buyers have reduced orders, forcing her to restructure the 20-year-old business.

And Central Kingstown representative St Claire Leacock says “the Erica’s of the world” need more space to manoeuvre.

“Erica McIntosh is a resource-based industry, meaning that she uses locally produced products to earn hard currency. That is what we need,” he said at a New Democratic Party Press conference on October 10.

He said Erica’s contrasts with the local flour mills “that imports wheat, and pays for it with hard currency, for local consumption.

“… We have to move the emphasis from import substitution to a resource based nation, meaning that we sell more of what we grown and produce and earn hard foreign currency. And that is what is contributing to a worsening balance of trade,” said Leacock, a former lecturer in business administration at the University of the West Indies.

“So, the Ericas of the world should be driving our society. The government itself has set up themselves as opposition to Erica and is now forcing her out of business by doing what she should be doing, rather than providing the incentives and the opportunities,” he said.

“So Erica, and the Ericas of the world, we need to move away from being a big fish in a small pond to her become a small fish in a big bond. Get all the small manufacturers to coalesce around her, or others — I am using her as an example — and link herself to the international business that can sell on the eastern seaboard of the United States of America,” the politician further said.

McIntosh, in the interview with SEARCHLIGHT this month, said the reduction in production has left her business with excess of raw materials and finished products.

She said that in the past, she exported products every two months to countries such as Barbados, Tortola, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

She spoke of what she described as unfair competition from a new government enterprise, which is able to sell its products cheaper.

Excluding the government entity, there are 17 producers of green seasoning and 22 of pepper sauce, locally, she said.

“We have to be realistic. Everybody is looking at the dollar, and then to have to compete with a factory here, that is locally doing it and underselling all of us,” McIntosh said. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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