Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Manufacturing workers came in for high praise as the recovery of the sector was attributed to their exceptional skill and performance exhibited especially during COVID-19.
During his first press conference for 2022, held at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Conference Room on Thursday, February 10, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that most of the workers in the sector are back out to work, adding that “more persons were working in manufacturing in 2021 than in 2020.”
“This is a good sign of recovery of the sector underway. It is to the credit of the high performance of our workers in our export manufacturing enclave and the other sectors of the manufacturing plant that, in spite of great competition globally and in particular from China, we continue to lead the OECS in the export of merchandise to the USA,” said Prime Minister Harris. “Of course, our merchandise not only goes to the USA, but they go to Europe. That speaks to the quality of work that is being done in our industrial estates – at the Industrial Site in Basseterre and, of course, in Sandy Point. Let us not take the contribution, the skills and the performance of our workers in these factories for granted.”
Dr. Harris said that St. Kitts and Nevis is not competing on the cost of labour and indicated that the Federation has the highest minimum wage in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and he “suspects by extension the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).”
“The competition is on things such as the skill, efficiency and the productivity of our workforce here. China, of course, will outdo us any day in terms of the wage they pay so we are competing in a highly competitive international market and we are doing well in this regard,” he said.
Prime Minister Harris said that employment in the sector is expected to grow further in 2022 with expansions of various factories such as Kajola Kristada Ltd. and Jaro Electronics, as well as the significant renovations and expansions at Carib Brewery St. Kitts and Nevis Limited.
“The broad manufacturing sector – (local and export manufacturing) contributed to over 1,300 jobs in the Federation. This means that in 2021, we had just under 100 additional persons working in manufacturing and helping to support their families. Whenever more people go out to work it is a good thing for family life and it is a good thing for our country. So, this is good news…,” said the Prime Minister. “We expect in 2022, to see even higher employment in the export enclave manufacturing sector as a result of innovation and new lines and products being added by our manufacturing plants. This is good news and it is a positive sign that our manufacturing sector is surely getting back on track slowly but surely,” he added.
Dr. Harris noted that factories such as API Harowe Servo St Kitts Ltd, Kajola Kristada Ltd, and JARO Electronics, continue to penetrate external markets with their quality electronic products. He added that Carib Brewery St. Kitts and Nevis Limited has also successfully penetrated several markets in the region.