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|Buy Bahamian: Agriculture & Fisheries Minister Encourages Use of Local Resources|
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|Posted by:||Jun 13th 2006, 12:17:15 am|
|Fig Tree News Team||http://www.jonesbahamas.com
Minister Bashes Gov’t
By Candia Dames
Sticking to the plain-speaking manner that has come to characterise his utterances in and outside the halls of parliament, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources Leslie Miller on Monday criticised the government for not doing enough to support Bahamian manufacturers and producers.
Minister Miller, who was contributing to debate on the 2006/2007 budget in the House of Assembly, said that the government failed to use any Bahamian-manufactured windows or doors in all the hundreds of affordable houses it constructed over the last four years.
The government’s record on housing has been one that Prime Minister Perry Christie and various ministers in his government have continued to tout.
But as far as Minister Miller is concerned, there were ways in which more Bahamians could have benefited.
"We have Andrew Rodgers and other people in this country who manufacture aluminium windows and doors. With all the affordable houses that were built in this country over the last four years not one single one has any Bahamian window or door in it; not one! Not one single one!" he said.
"Indeed, the people at the Ministry of Works wouldn’t even specify the local products. Right now they’re painting Batelco (BTC) and wouldn’t allow the contractor to use the local paint, yet they get their salaries in the bank and we sit back and allow it to happen."
Minister Miller, a local businessman and manufacturer by profession, added, "One thing you will hear from me is truth."
He took his criticism further, saying that most members of parliament don’t generally patronize Bahamian businesspeople.
"It’s a problem. It starts from up here," he said. "We have to be serious, man. You have to be conscious of things Bahamian. You have to be conscious that these people have invested their families’ future…Only those who know the pain feel it…I blame all of us collectively."
Minister Miller said that throughout the country, Bahamian products are given second and third rate preference.
He said that some major food stores and hotel properties continue to ignore Bahamian goods even though they are of high quality.
In this regard, he criticised Kerzner International, saying that it approached a local ice cream producer and said it wanted the company to produce a top quality ice cream.
He said Bordon’s (now Nassau Dairy Products) spent about $150,000 on new equipment for the production. According to the minister, after there was a change in management at Kerzner’s purchasing department, the resort cancelled the orders.
"They decided they will only carry Haagen Dazs in their place," Minister Miller said. "We’re hoping that these people would have a conscience. We can only appeal to their conscience…They get enough incentives that they should as good corporate citizens [support Bahamian products]."
Minister Miller said Bahamian manufacturers are catching "eternal hell".
"The new generation of entrepreneurs are not going to step to the forefront because they realise that all you do is fail," he said.
But Minister Miller praised Super Value Food Stores owner Rupert Roberts for continuing to support local producers.
"He has done more to support and sustain and to uplift the local industry in this country than all of the others combined – all," the minister said. "If we had 10 more Rupert Roberts we could transform this country.
"You can appeal to the other big guys as much as you like. They won’t listen to you. This is why the foreigners come in here without having anything but a briefcase and walk out of here with millions and millions of dollars in orders, and Bahamians who produce in this country get nothing, nothing at all."
Minister Miller said he blamed Bahamian consumers for not demanding that more Bahamian products are on the shelves.
"The only thing the importers and distributors do in this country is collude to run the small Bahamians out of the country," he said.
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