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Pandohie: Take back what is rightfully ours

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod Limited.

Richard Pandohie, chief executive officer of SEPROD, yesterday restated his commitment to the free market process, while declaring that Jamaica must take a stand against unfair trading practices that put it an unfair disadvantage.

"The idea of free trade and fair trade is very important to us. When you build out a facility like this, when you make this type of investment, the intent is to be able to trade in any market, wherever," Pandohie told the official factory opening and launch of the Gold Seal Flour brand. The upgraded factory, he noted, is the best-in-class multigrain mill and the most technologically advanced in the region.

Pandohie's comments came as a clarification of recent allegations he made that Trinidad was dumping flour in Jamaica.

The J$3 billion factory upgrading, which is a joint venture with Seaboard Corporation, a United States Fortune 500 company, now facilitates Jamaica Grain and Cereals Limited's foray into flour production under the Gold Seal brand - counter flour, baking flour, whole wheat flour, and speciality value-added products. Prior to 2017, the plant produced refined cornmeal, whole meal, grits (bakers and brewers), cracked corn, hominy corn, and Pronto Cornmeal Instant Porridge. The mega investment now sees the company employing 300 persons.

With the investment in state-of-the art technology positioning the company to compete at the highest levels, the SEPROD executive charged policymakers to ensure that Jamaica trades on a level regional playing field.

"Unless you expand your mind and look at all the competitive aspects, you'll always limit yourself to the potential of what you can do," he argued. "We will always support trade within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), but we expect CARICOM to be able to set a platform where trade can be done in a way that is equitable for all concerned. And we will continue to push our minister of (industry, commerce, agriculture, and fisheries) and our CARCIOM Secretariat to make sure that is done." Pandohie stated.

Successive Jamaican administrations have sat back for too long and treated manufacturing like a bastard child, resulting in the country becoming more of a distributor of products manufactured elsewhere, he further charged.

christopher. serju@gleanerjm.com