An appeal to help revive Dominica’s battered manufacturing sector

Severin McKenzie is President of the DMA

Local manufacturers are making a concerted effort to bring their sector fully back to life following the huge body blow it suffered at the hands of Category-5 Hurricane Maria.

Insisting that manufacturing is still relevant, the Dominica Manufacturers Association is signaling an intention to make a key priority “Revival of a Battered Sector”.

The DMA is reminding the nation that “the manufacturing sector suffered a devastating blow from Hurricane Maria which left numerous facilities in ruins and wiped out the source of raw materials for the cottage industries”.

It points to some of the businesses that suffered the most: “Virgin coconut oil production that was showing much promise with a significant number of producers, before the hurricane, has been reduced to zero. The Buy Dominica Supercentre that was established in 2015 and served as an outlet for locally manufactured products was flooded and subsequently looted at a great loss to the suppliers”.

The Association has confirmed that it is in negotiations with the government of Dominica and the AID Bank to secure reasonable terms and conditions “to access the fifteen million dollars (EC$15 million) facility for manufacturing at the AID Bank. Approaches have been made to the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate the importation of agricultural products such as dry coconuts, plantains, peppers, cocoa beans and other products required for agro-processing, until such time that local production is re-established”.

According to DMA President Severin McKenzie, the year 2017 was promising to be very successful for the manufacturing sector that witnessed a marked improvement in the quality and variety of products on the market.

He says in a release announcing the association’s 7th annual general meeting scheduled for next week Wednesday, that more than sixty suppliers accounted for over two hundred local products at the BUY DOMINICA SUPERCENTRE, and that preparations were in place to establish a similar facility in the neighboring island of Guadeloupe.

McKenzie had earlier noted that that the government of Dominica had signed an agreement with the AID Bank for a Fifteen Million Dollars EC ($15,000,000.00) facility for manufacturers less than a month before Hurricane Maria.

Referring further to the wounds inflicted by Maria on Dominican manufacturers, McKenzie says the annual general meeting “will be convened amidst the closure of some of the major manufacturing facilities such as Bello Products and Dominica Breweries and Beverages Ltd, whose properties are still in ruins”.

The Association is urging its members and other manufacturers including potential manufacturers to make a special effort to attend the Annual General Meeting at the Garraway Hotel on Wednesday 21st March, 2018.

McKenzie argues that manufacturing is still a major pillar in the Dominican economy, and its revival is something that should be fully supported.

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15 Comments

  1. Amanda
    March 16, 2018

    The only way that is going to work is to go local. Stop importing junk, stop importing what can be grown locally. Then business to flourish. Process the whole banana: florets for salad, heart of the flower (popot) for making flour. Or make tea, good for diabetes. Srilanka uses every part of the tree. The heart of the stem can be used for food, after peeling the outer darker layers. Try it next time you have “nothing” to eat.

    • Roger Burnett
      March 18, 2018

      I agree Amanda.

      In my DNO commentary “A State of Self Sufficiency” I wrote about my success in using the high cellulose content of banana stems for paper making. Even more valuable are the stem’s filaments: they can make a fabric finer than silk and have the strength to reinforce automobile tyres. Similar potentials hold true for what is presently discarded as trash from other crops.

      If you go to: sculpturestudiodominica.blogspot.com you can find out more about these initiatives. The relevant entries are dated as follows: 3/16/18; 1/6/18; 9/18/17; 8/23/17; 7/27/17; 6/9/17.

      Incidentally, the hurricane didn’t affect my supply of raw material. The fallen stems kept me going until the recent new crop became available.

      Dominica is rich in potential but low on innovation.

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    March 15, 2018

    Well, if you believe that manufacturing is still essential, why keep lamenting about it  as you have done in the past, to be repetitive is not a resolve, you simply have to keep doing what manufactures do. Produce a product of quality that is needed in Dominica, and the international market; sell at home, and out of Dominica, hence, the manufacturers will see profits, and no will have to beg as you are doing!

    Right now it appears as if you are shedding tears, with the hope that someone will feel sorry for you and make a token gift of millions of free dollars to you. That is not how it works in business. if you are a true manufacture, you need to have the support of a Bank; you need line of Credit in order to operate. I am into Real Estate; I ensure that I have a home equity line of Credit from which I can extract money for any emergency’s; and even if I simply wish to go and gamble for a month!

    • anonymous2
      March 15, 2018

      They don’t have those lines of credit anymore on real estate. If you have one, please state the institution.

      • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
        March 16, 2018

        How can you make such a stupid statement that they do not have those kind of loans anymore: When you say they: they who are you referring to, or are you talking about Dominica?

        Some of us Dominicans like to contradict people who live the life and knows!

        How many pieces of Real Estate do you own, and where are they located, how much do you earn per month in rent?

        I reside in Los Angeles, California in the United States of America, and there are lots of institutions, as in banking which extends Real Estate line of credit. I have one, so I do not know what you are talking about.

    • Maria
      March 15, 2018

      Why do you continue being a dunce cat, I would prefer to say Ja..k A..s but I’ll respect DNO for the privilege.

  3. Ibo France
    March 14, 2018

    You know what I find disheartening, the foreign investors receive so many concessions and tax breaks but the struggling poor local manufacturers get hardly any concessionary deals. Small businesses are the engine of growth for the economy . Most of their profits remain in the country to help to boost the economy. Why not assist the local manufacturers with a fighting chance of restarting and growing their plant? Better must be done.

    • Dominican
      March 15, 2018

      I would respectfully ask you to check with IDA, the government investment body before making such a statement without being specific. My experience is that potential Dominican investors are subject to the same conditions as foreign ones, including access to concessions. As far as this Dominican is aware, their applications are assessed by the same criteria. However, they cannot be blamed if they are bypassed by investors, who go direct to the decision makers, who ultimately is our Prime Minister.
      I would not want to create the impression that we are prejudiced against inward investments and discourage investors, foreign or Dominican. We need them now more than ever.

    • prophet for a profit
      March 15, 2018

      Manufacturers face other problems like access to suitable production space, financing, testing, research and development facilities, poor shipping options among just concessions. Concessions are open to both locals and foreign, however you must have your business properly registered and other things in place. your project must have significant value, not some vai ki vai scheme that is improperly set up.

      On another note manufacturing is what can save this country. although it is capital intensive, it employs significantly, it teaches a skill, it can have export potential to reduce the trade deficit, and increases gdp overall. The country needs to invest and focus in on manufacturing. We need to start producing. Agriculture has a great part to play in agro processing, yet there is no synergy.

      • Ibo France
        March 15, 2018

        @prophet for a profit
        I concur with the points that you have made for I think they are all salient. The Caribbean food import bill runs into billions of dollars annually. This is a travesty since we have very fertile soil and an abundance of rainfall. We should be producing much more of what we consume. Mutton, beef, chicken, vegetables, fruits should be produced in sufficient quantities locally. Agro-processing plants should be more flourishing. The government should incentivize people to get into farming by offering more concessions and tax breaks on farm lands, seedlings, fencing wire and poles, fertilizers and create an agency that gives very concessionary rates on loans to bona fide farmers. Agriculture should be our number one industry. The problem with us is that we are more a consumer of goods than a producer of what we consume. Government can provide better and more incentives to boost agricultural production and agro-processing.

  4. Looking
    March 14, 2018

    I am appealing to the government of Dominica, please make building materials duty free and fully accessible to the ordinary citizen (those who cannot afford to import). As it now stands, importers and those who are able to import are benefiting from the duty free concessions, but the poor man has to pay VAT at the counter when making his purchases.

  5. prophet for a profit
    March 14, 2018

    We need more suitable industrial space. Not just opened sheds, but facilities designed for production and testing and development. The way we are manufacturing, our products will never enter foreign markets and be placed on the shelves of major supermarkets. We need facilities that can meet international standards.

    • Roger Burnett
      March 15, 2018

      You are quite right, we fall far short of meeting international food standards. We also neglect the importance of package design in terms of product presentation.

      And once you go beyond kitchen table production, we do not have the mechanical engineering expertise to design, produce and maintain, in-house, equipment that is suited for our purpose.

    • Anonymous
      March 15, 2018

      Not only that, will they command prices in foreign markets that produce profits for our local manufacturers without government subvention. If our manufacturers need tax dollars to make a living we may as well give them the dry cash in the first place and save ourselves a lot of headache.

  6. anonymous2
    March 14, 2018

    A positive step that the govt. doesn’t give money to. People trying to help themselves by coming together.

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