LETTER OF THE DAY - How many jobs have you created, Dr King?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am repulsed by the weak and ignorant comments made by Damien King in the article 'JMA pushing a Trojan horse' (Sunday Gleaner, August 10, 2014). Mr King has no experience working in the sector and no working knowledge of the sector. Book training is important. However, the real knowledge comes from working in the field.
During my presidency, I have called for low interest rates for not only the manufacturing and agricultural sectors but for the entire country. Additionally, it is my view that with our huge trade deficit, which stood at US$2,758.3 million without fuel in 2013, and the shortage of foreign exchange, we should not be importing products that are made here in abundance and competitively priced. However, it is clear that Mr King does not recognise or understand the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and Jamaica.
FOOD FOR MANY
Each day my company doors open, a Jamaican worker is able to ensure the livelihood of five other family members, because of the relief or exemptions to which Dr King refers. It is, therefore, important that the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) advocate for access to foreign exchange, so that I am able to keep my 200 workers employed, pay suppliers, and continue producing. I strongly reject Mr King's claim that the manufacturing sector is why the dollar is devaluing.
We have been lobbying because the playing field has not been level for years. What we seek is a competitive economic space, as provided for manufacturers in other countries, and it is unfortunate that we have to advocate for this. Even the great United States offers its manufacturing sector incentives, as it has recognised the importance of a strong economic base and the error of shipping all the jobs to China.
Manufacturers in Trinidad benefit from subsidised oil, tax rebates and an absence of customs duties on raw materials, and Barbados manufacturers receive exemptions from import duties on parts, raw materials, and production machinery, as well as tax holidays and training grants. We do operate in a common market within the region.
I have these questions for Dr King: What is your contribution to GDP? How many jobs have you created? How much tax do you pay? I can show you my contribution to this country as a manufacturer. What can you show? Furthermore, why remain on the board of a manufacturing company if you do not believe in its relevance to the economy? I encourage Dr King to buy a Trojan horse full of local products.
Managing director, Edgechem
Past president, JMA