Small and medium-sized black businesses in Barbados are calling for immediate assistance from the Government. In fact, they want 75 per cent of all Government work.
Manager of Winifred Trophies and Calypso Sports Wear, Trevor Clarke, made this call yesterday while reminding members of the Press at the Baxters Road outlet of Pizza Man Doc, the City, that it had been a Democratic Labour Party manifesto promise that 40 per cent of all Government procurement would go to small and medium-sized black businesses.
“The reason why we are here at this very important operation is because the black business community is going through some very serious challenges, as indeed the entire nation, and therefore we have outlined approximately 25 items that can assist this country which will therefore prevent us from having to devalue our currency or launch out into finding $600 million for a stimulus. We know it is unnecessary … We therefore find it very important that we look into the great Bill which was sent into parliament twice by the late David Thompson,” he said.
In a pamphlet handed out to members of the Press and titled Operation Now! Today among the items cited by Clarke to assist black businessmen was a further 35 per cent added for independence to the 40 per cent that had been promised by the late David Thompson in 2008. He further suggested that all school and hospitals supplies should be provided by black businesses, while 75 per cent of all construction work should be given to this sector.
Noting that Public Service Vehicles had to be taken off routes and formed a pile up of vehicles on Roebuck Street every evening for diesel, Clarke suggested that an immediate fuel sales facility for PSV should be established.
He called for the establishment of a new Barbados Development Bank and a Barbados Commercial Bank with shared ownership with the credit unions.
The outspoken businessman suggested that all new members of credit unions should enjoy a $15,000 tax credit to compensate for recent years of economic oppression.
Turning to the tourism sector, Clarke suggested that all hoteliers who have tax concessions should be made to prove that they bought local product or paid their taxes.
Noting that the late Errol Barrow had invited the British company Courts to Barbados with a clear understanding that it sold 100 per cent Barbadian furniture, Clarke said that since he left office this practice had been discontinued. While calling for a Value Added Tax of 15 per cent on a basket of goods, Clarke suggested that after paying electricity bills for five years, home-owners should become shareholders in the Barbados Light & Power Company.
Lending his support to the local manufacturing sector Clarke said that with a major infusion of funds and support of Government, manufacturers in Barbados would be able to take on the region and win.
Identifying John Hampden as one of the major victims of the introduction of a licensing system by Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Clarke said: “We were so successful that both Jamaica, but most damagingly Trinidad and Tobago, banned Barbadian products by creating licences. At that time Hampden had at the port in Trinidad over four containers of furniture each valued at $350,000. He was out immediately close to a million dollars.
“On the way by boat was another four to six containers valued at another $1 million. He also had a substantial order in the factory being manufactured. He lost $2 million in less than three weeks. No firm in Barbados has ever had that burden and survived. Yet we hear colossal ignorance spread about the great Hampden and Sandra Hooper who have passed on.”
Clarke maintained that Barbados has reached this economic recession because policy makers had made a decision to concentrate on the services industry and neglected students who sought to pursue courses in vocational training.
“University trained graduates were the only people geared for and benefited from the services industry,” Clarke contended.
Meanwhile, small businessman, Peter “Prophet” Grant, suggested that Barbados has to do something about the banking system because he has known people who understood business yet they ran into difficulties.
He claimed that when the difficulties arose those financial institutions which financed them initially failed to offer them any assistance again.
When we look at the international crisis that we are facing we see that companies like General Motors, financial institutions like the Bank of America where the executives are supposed to be well educated financial controllers yet the businesses failed. In England these people have received a stimulus package.
“These people here say you cannot run a business because it failed. If the banks could be “broke”, if the insurance companies can be broke therefore the businesses which began undercapitalised are bound to run into some form of difficulties. So we need a change in the financial arena in Barbados,” the businessman said.
Barbados needs a poor people’s bank,” Grant said. “Just look at the Jews and the Muslims who came from the Middle Eastern countries and set up financial institutions in the US and do not accept interest on loans.”
Grant suggested that small businessmen in Barbados need something like that because the interest on the loans was “killing the small man”.
“We need to have a Government that is for the people, a Government that loves the people and cares for the people’s well being not for the well off ones at the top that get all of the concessions. When these small businesses go out of business government will not get any taxes from importation. They will not get any VAT also. If this trend continues we are going to have a dead Barbados,” Grant explained.
Grant called for support for the small businessman and told the bankers and credit union officials that money in their vaults was dead money because it could not help anyone.
He suggested that they do not continue to think as they do and think outside of the box and restructure their way of doing business to ensure that Barbados does not sink because companies need to exist. (NC)