The cash-strapped Rural Development Commission (RDC) is having a difficult time recovering some of the $11 million it has lent to the over 1,400 individuals over the years, Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman revealed today.
Addressing a special awards ceremony and open day at the RDC’s Bridge Street, St Michael office this morning, Kellman did not say how much was outstanding.
However, he said the level of delinquency had reached an “unacceptable” level, and he appealed to defaulters to pay up.
“While we are happy with the success of over 1,200 businesses, the fund is a revolving one and the current delinquency rate is now unacceptable. Unfortunately, this creates a diminishing cash flow thereby preventing new entrepreneurs from accessing the help of the Commission. We urge those defaulters to pay up,” Kellman said.
The RDC was established to assist in the development of businesses and communities across the island, and the minister said the agency had been “proudly assisting with the sustainability of rural entrepreneurs” over the years.
“We have proudly witnessed the growth and expansion of some of these businesses here, we have seen the diversification of others and the creation of additional services to already established enterprises,” the Member of Parliament for St Lucy told the gathering.
The RDC forms part of Government’s Habitat III programme to help Barbadians meet needs relating to agriculture, waste collection, transportation, the movement of goods, health and water.
Today’s open day formed part of it 20th year celebrations, which began in August.
The public was invited to view some of the work done by entrepreneurs who accessed loans and to start or expand their businesses.
Six loan recipients involved in agriculture, craft and skincare were given special awards for their outstanding commitment in their various fields.
RDC Director Randolph Outram said the state agency had assisted in the development of several small businesses in rural Barbados and had helped to provide housing, road and electricity to rural communities throughout its lifetime.
In the March 2016 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue the Ministry of Housing and Lands received $107,844,082, of which $4.5 million was earmarked for rural development.