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LETTER OF THE DAY - Samuda's claptrap ignores trade inequities

Published:Monday | May 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The front-page comments in The Gleaner of Saturday, May 12 by Mr Milton Samuda would be ridiculous if it wasn't for the position he holds.

If we compare just a few facts;

1. Power in Trinidad costs US$0.05 to Jamaica's US$0.30 - six times more expensive.

2. Diesel fuel costs US$0.25 per litre to Jamaica's US$1.33 - five to six times more expensive.

3. The Jamaican and CARICOM agencies ban a drink 'Hawaiian Punch' made in Jamaica for entry into Trinidad, but allow pistachios imported into Trinidad to be repackaged and shipped to Jamaica.

TRINIDAD'S UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

The Jamaican manufacturers pay two per cent environmental levy on all raw materials. All importers from the rest of the world - not including CARICOM - are charged two per cent on products imported into Jamaica. Not so our CARICOM and Trinidadian brothers, who are allowed to ship finished products into Jamaica without a levy.

The manufacturing sector and the persons it employs are a relief valve on a very large and dangerous boiler. If we do not allow some steam to escape, the resulting carnage will do tremendous damage. The margin gatherers at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce should protect the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, its members, and persons employed to the manufacturing sector, who purchase your products daily.

We have suffered as a sector, and not since the early 1960s has there been a minister of industry who has understood manufacturing, developed industry, and stood beside us shoulder to shoulder as did Mr Robert Lightbourne.

As a federationist from the 1950s, I urge my Trinidadian brothers to correct this, or the little that remains of the Federation's successor, CARICOM, will blow away in the wind.

JOSEPH MAHFOOD (CD)

josephm@flowja.com