Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Gleaner Editors' Forum | Exporters bemoan exorbitant cost, lengthy processes

Published:Tuesday | July 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer

In addition to the exorbitant fees and expenses that they encounter, exporters believe that some of the processes have contributed to serious delays in turn around time for their clients.

Richard Pandohie, deputy president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (JMEA), told journalists at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum that a lack of understanding on the part of policymakers has made doing business in Jamaica extremely difficult and costly.

"Our big problem in Jamaica is that our technocrats are not understanding what it is to facilitate business and export. The Veterinary Division has to inspect every batch (of products) and give you a certificate, and every batch comes with a cost," Pandohie said during the forum that was held at the newspapers' North Street offices in downtown Kingston.

"For inspection fee alone, from just one ministry, I'm probably spending somewhere in the region of $300,000 a month. And after all the assessments and processes are done, it takes an average of 10 days to be released," he added.

Pandohie continued, "So after I produce, I have to sit back for another 10 days before I can start exporting. The cost of doing business in Jamaica as it relates to compliance and regulation is prohibitive."

One-month wait

Similar sentiments were shared by Group Marketing director of Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Limited, Sean Garbut who said it has become the norm to have clients waiting for more than one month before products are delivered.

"Another part of the cost of doing business factor is that it adds to your turn around time, because when I produce an item the Bureau of Standards is notified. They do their tests and assessments which cannot be fast tracked. So, we have to tell our clients eight weeks from the point of you giving me an order ... and I can produce it in under a week," he said.

Managing director of Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), Dr AndrÈ Gordon explained that other countries in the Caribbean were far advanced in making the process easier for exporters.

"Jamaica is the only country in the Caribbean where this is a reality. We have clients in Trinidad: if you call them today to order a particular product, as long as shipping is available, they can run it today and have it on a container tomorrow."