Manufacturers want Govt’s help
By Clint Chan Tack and Leiselle Maraj Saturday, March 14 2009
Trade and Industry Minister Mariano Browne said yesterday Trinidad and Tobago must not adopt a protectionist approach to trade.
Browne told Newsday he planned to meet with Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) president Karen De Montbrun about a stimulus package to help local manufacturers to weather the crisis. De Montbrun on Thursday expressed concern that manufacturers may be forced to dismiss between 40 to 60 percent of their employees if Government does not agree to this package.
He said Cabinet would have to approve any stimulus package. Browne said a balance must be struck between foreign trade and ensuring local business remains competitive. “We have done the protection route. Certainly, we do have a position where we would like to have freer trade and I think we are committed to that position,” Browne said.
Manufacturers support the stimulus package and are calling on government to act before they are forced to send their workers home.
Langston Roach Industries Limited managing director and chairman, Langston Roach said the package should contain measures to encourage consumers to buy local products. His company has been running advertisements, encouraging consumers to buy local.
“We have lost competitiveness over the last three years because the cost of raw materials, building materials, construction went up in this time, even the cost of hiring staff because of the country being at full employment,” he said. Roach said his company, which produces hair, body, baby, industrial and cleaning products, has been experiencing smaller profits over the last two years. The company had to layoff 20 percent of its employees.
Joint managing director at MDC-UM Business and Home Furniture, Richard Farah also agreed to a stimulus package. “If people continue to be sent home, Government has to consider the job losses occurring and the resultant unrest. It will be upsetting,” he said.