Minister Gilbert made the observation after participating in a meeting with a three-member consultancy team from A-Z Jamaica Limited. The consultancy company has been contracted by the CARICOM Secretariat to conduct a Consultancy to Design a Programme for Development of Protected LDC Industries. The team comprised Dr. Noel Watson, CEO, Bryan Aikman BSc., EMBA, and Janette M. Lodge, Chartered Accountant.
The money from the Caribbean Export is in the form of grants, Hon. Gilbert explained. "But what came out clearly from the meeting,'' he revealed, "is that the information about the existence of such a fund has never reached our manufacturers.''
“Manufacturers,” Minister Gilbert argued, "have been kept in total ignorance of the vast potential that is available through this CARICOM initiative to help improve their business opportunities, especially in the areas of product development and export market.''
The team of consultants has been charged with putting together a strategy that would foster the development of these industries and implementation of Article 164 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in CARICOM’s Less Developed Countries (LDCs). The overall objective of Article 164 is to promote industrial development in CARICOM’s LDCs, including Grenada.
In 2006, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) agreed to implement a tariff regime which was meant to protect the industries under Article 164. It was due to come into effect in 2006, but, according to the consultants, it has not been implemented by any of the LDCs to date. In addition, support measures and the necessary programmes for achieving competitiveness have not been implemented to facilitate the development of these industries as provided for in the Article.
"These are the sort of issues that the consultancy is required to identify and to recommend creative ways on how best to resolve them,'' said Dr. Watson, team leader of the consultancy team.
Minister Gilbert said that as the new Minister for Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development, he intends to help develop the productive sector in Grenada.
One way to do that, according to the Minister, is by providing the necessary leadership to ensure that Grenada takes full advantage of current technical and financial assistance available through CARICOM.
"It would not be business as usual going forward,'' pledged Mr. Gilbert, who served as Minister for Works, Physical Development and Public Utilities until October 7, 2011, when he was reassigned by Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas in a cabinet reshuffle.
Minister Gilbert is optimistic that Grenada's relatively weak export sector could see impressive growth in the next few years.
Over a period of three days, the consultancy team met with the various institutions that provide some measure of support to the Article 164 industries which included the Grenada Exporters Association, Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC), the Central Statistics Office and the Ministry of Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development.
The team also met with representatives from the Article 164 industries in Grenada, which included water, furniture and aerated beverages. The flour and industrial gases industries of Grenada have been selected to participate in the CARICOM pilot project to Design a Development Programme for Protected LDCs. As part of their visit, the team made onsite visits to Caribbean Agro Industries and L&M Investments Ltd. to conduct in depth assessment of their business operations.
The overall objective of the consultancy is to contribute towards the reduction of economic disparities in CARICOM by increasing production capacity, and improving efficiency and competiveness of industries in the LDCs, particularly OECS countries.
The purpose of this contract is to support the development of selected, protected industries of the OECS into competitive entities through recommendation of an improved Community supported industrial development strategy, recommend changes in business plans, accounting systems and the identification of additional technical assistance requirements.
The expected results from this intervention are as follows:
- An Inception Report on the preliminary findings of the consultant concerning protected industries in the relevant OECS Member States
- A Draft Report which evaluates the efficacy of the Article 164 application in the OECS confirms enjoying protection under Article 164.
- recommends measures to enhance the efficacy of the application of Article 164 protection on the basis of interaction at the level of the protected firms set out a programme and plan of action to enhance performance which may be considered in a CARICOM Development Fund Country Assistance Programming including:
- changes in accounting and financial systems;
- a strategy for mobilizing resources to assist protected firms;
- a Programme for coaching and mentoring of selected firms;
- a programme for acquiring international certification and exploitation of environmentally friendly technologies in production
- objective indicators for evaluating the performance of protected firms within the context of Article 164
- A Final Report which takes on board feedback from the beneficiary Government and firm as well as the CARICOM Development Fund.