The Government of Dominica and the Agricultural, Industrial Development Bank have formally signed the agreement for a EC$15 million loan facility for manufacturers.
It was late last year, the Hon Prime Minister, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit met with the Dominica Manufacturers Association to decide on a way forward for that sector in Dominica.
After much consultation, it was decided that capital for boosting the production capacity of manufacturers was paramount in advancing the sector.
However, the Hon Prime Minister and Minister for Finance believes that it is local consumers who have a crucial role to play in the success of local manufacturers and by extension the Dominican economy.
Speaking at the official signing ceremony at the state house conference centre on Thursday, the nation’s leader called on Dominicans to make locally produced goods their preference in the bid to lower the import bill.
“We have to exercise a certain degree of affirmative action …by our practices. We cannot want to have more jobs in Dominica, we cannot want to have a 5% growth in the economy, we cannot want to have better roads…and not recognise how each of us can pay a role in achieving this.”
He pledged to the manufacturers the continued support of government in alleviating their challenges.
The Hon Minister for Commerce Enterprise and Small Business Development, Roselyn Paul called the occasion a giant step.
“Today’s activity is not just a step forward, but a giant step when we think of the potential impact not only on the sector specifically but on the benefit to be derived nationally and even regionally but that is if such opportunities are maximised,” she said.
She remarked that the credit facility will “help to address some core issues that affect the manufacturing sector.”
Government expects that agro-processors, furniture makers, garment manufacturers, craft producers, metal and glass fabricators, boat makers, breweries, saw mill operators, those involved in producing soaps, pharmaceuticals, herbal teas, organic fertilizers, paints, pesticides, leather and paper, masonry products and other businesses deemed as manufacturing to take full advantage of this facility.
Funds are directed at working capital, construction of facilities, purchase of equipment and machinery, expansion and or improvement of the manufacturing plant, systems update, marketing and promotion activities and training, the commerce minister explained.
Indeed, the manufacturers are pleased that Government is making these funds available to take the sector to the next level.
Executive member of the DMA, Jean Yves Bonnaire spoke on behalf of the association.
“We believe that the manufacturing sector in Dominica has great potential, there is a lot of creativity in that sector and it is time for us to move to a next level because we are plagued with small productions and it is in these conditions very difficult for us to meet export demands. We have to work also on quality and of course to achieve all this we need financing and this is why the financing provided today to the sector by the Government is a blessing and we really hope that all the manufacturers in diverse sectors will make good use of the money that is put by the Government at our disposal today.”
The $15 million special loan facility will be disbursed at a three percent interest rate with one year grace period and borrowers will be given up to twelve years to repay. The maximum amount which can be accessed is three million dollars.
Chairman of the board of directors of the AID Bank, Martin Charles is pleased that Government continues to use the aid bank for such facilities; assisting the bank in carrying out its mandate of increased economic development.
He advised manufacturers that “whilst this is a 0% loan to the bank nevertheless it is a loan.” He urged borrowers to make good use on their obligation to the bank
The AID bank will also provide technical assistance to the manufacturers.