Seprod MD urges politicians to nurture fledgling companies

BY KARL ANGELL Executive editor Operations

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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After listing the various multimillion-dollar investments undertaken by the Seprod Group during 2015 – from milk production to the manufacturing of oil, butter and sugar among other products – Managing Director and CEO of the Group, Richard Pandohie, implored politicians and other decision makers to adopt a sensible approach in dealing with fledgling growth possibilities.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the group on Monday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, the Seprod MD made the position of the company very clear.

"We implore our politicians and technocrats to be sensible and not compromise the fledgling growth possibilities through ill-advised taxation measures and poor policy decisions.

"You cannot talk about growth in the agricultural sector but have a policy in place that has destroyed the dairy industry.

"You cannot be forcing manufacturers to outlay millions of dollars for environmental compliance but then have no resources in place to stop persons bringing in goods that are flagrantly violating the country’s labelling requirements and undermining legitimate businesses.

"You cannot ask companies to unfairly shoulder additional tax burdens when so much money is being left on the table due to poor compliance and collection by Government agencies," he stated.

Pandohie informed shareholders that Seprod was cautiously optimistic about Jamaica’s growth outlook.

"We are cautiously optimistic about the country’s outlook; there is evidence of growth occurring, but it is early days and it must be nurtured carefully. With respect to Seprod, we are positive that we will grow and deliver improvement in shareholder value," Pandohie said.

The Seprod managing director in his presentation to shareholders stressed the value of mutually beneficial partnerships.

"We want to partner with small farmers; in 2015, this country produced less than 12 million litres of milk, yet in 1994 we were producing almost 40 million litres. We want to work with the farmers to bring back the industry.

"We want partnership with the unions to move Jamaican workers to a compensation structure based on productivity.

"We want partnership with other companies where we can leverage each other’s strengths. Key examples of this include: us working with GK in some Diaspora markets; Seprod working with Nutramix, Fersan and JDDB to launch the ‘Drink Real Milk Campaign’.

"We want partnership with educational institutions to build human capacity. The Seprod Foundation is working with the College of Agriculture, Science & Education (CASE) to build research capabilities, provide scholarships, internships and jobs for the students.

"Partnership with our consumers: We have been proactively bringing value to our consumers. In 2015, we reduced the price on our Swizzle & Cool Fruit juices by 30 per cent to reflect improved productivity in the factory and lower utility price.

"This year we have reduced the biscuit prices by 20 per cent for similar reasons," Pandohie told shareholders.

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