A leading businessman is calling on the Barbados government to re-think its policies regarding the imposition of duties on some products imported into the island.
Chairman of Williams Industries Inc., Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, speaking at the company’s 20th awards’ dinner, said he wanted the government to “pay attention to the excessive 102 per cent duty on our imports…
“I would really like him to reduce that back to 20 per cent and the restoration of the Bound rate on duty of steel from extra regional sources,” Williams told the ceremony that was also attended by Industry Minister, Donville Inniss.
But Inniss, who said he was neither the Minister of Finance nor the Prime Minister, said he had heard the calls for the reduction in rates of duties on inputs of some products.
“The truth of the matter is that we in Barbados have to make a paradigm shift in a lot of things we do. I am concerned that we have had a so-called industrial development over the last 50 years that has grown by high protectionist measures on the side of Government.
“And, my concern is that high levels of protectionism dampen creativity and innovation and I believe the State really needs to help unshackle the mind of our people,” Inniss said, noting that the future of Barbados must be one that is “not driven by high levels of taxation and duties, especially on items that we have to import for the needs of Barbados”.
He urged other manufacturers here to recognise the world as their oyster, and “produce a lot more in Barbados to meet the demands of the world”.
Inniss commended Williams for being a “patriotic Barbadian”, “unsung hero” and “trailblazer” and that the company, described as a major player in the national, regional and international market, owed its growth to the “visionary leadership it has had”, sheer determination, intellectual skills and risks taken by its leader, he assured him of Government’s support and applauded the company’s efforts at recognising staff as shareholders.
He praised the Group’s shareholder concept as an “important milestone” even as he lamented that Barbadians had not yet reached that point of appreciating what it meant to be a shareholder.
“Sad to say, 51 years after Independence, some people in this country still reflect upon their salaries, allowances and benefits they are paid and do not focus on becoming a shareholder. And to me, there is nothing more important in your career development than becoming an owner rather than just focusing on being an employee.
“When you are a shareholder or when you aspire to be a shareholder, you invariably go the extra mile; you stop thinking of yourself, just as someone who will receive a pay check at the end of the month or week, and as someone who is now making an immense contribution towards the growth and development of the company,” Inniss added.