If it were entirely up to Minister of Industry Donville Inniss funding agencies established to assist micro, small and medium-sized enterprises would be weaned off Government support and left to fend for themselves.
This, Inniss believes, would help to solve the contentious issue of having to impose unnecessary taxes on the population.
He made the comments in a recent interview during which he gave an update on the special $50 million fund announced in the August 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, to assist micro, small and medium enterprises here.
The finances are to be transferred from the Central Bank-administered Industrial Credit Fund. Among the agencies to manage the new special $50 million fund are Fund Access and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).
Using Fund Access as an example of Government-supported agencies that assist small businesses here, Inniss said it received between $2 million and $3 million of taxpayers’ funds from Government each year.
“It is better to perhaps inject a higher level of capital and allow you to pay your operation expense out of that recapitalization – out of the interest you earn and whatever fees you charge for transaction –– so that agencies like Fund Access must become more stand alone and less dependent on the state for annual financing,” Inniss said.
“I can’t say give you couple million dollars this year to lend to micro, small and medium enterprises and then next year you come back for another two or three million dollars. Where is it coming from? It is not dropping from heaven. These are out of taxes imposed, and I don’t want to see any more taxation imposed on the people of Barbados, particularly directed to such.”
Besides Fund Access, small businesses here have a number of avenues through which to access favourable loan financing or other forms of financial assistance, including some Central Bank-administered schemes, the Enterprise Growth Fund and the BIDC.
In relation to the promised special $50 million fund, Inniss said it was at an advanced stage, pointing out that he had already had the necessary meetings with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank.
The minister said while he appreciated getting things done quickly, he also wanted to ensure it was “done well and in a very orderly fashion”.
“We have worked on the administrative issues, compliance issues, policy issues, and now the financing part is coming in place and we will move from there.
“We are at the stage now where in another few weeks we are to finalize things and get the first tranche of between $5,000 and $10,000 transferred over to Fund Access for continuing investment,” he said.
Inniss also had a word of caution for businesses seeking to access this new financing option, saying he hoped enterprises would appreciate that the funds they would receive was “money earned off the backs of somebody else”.
“I want the money to be used to spur real investment, not just going and buying an item and putting on a markup and selling it, which is a challenge for some people, but we want to see innovation, we want to see creativity, we want to see the earning of foreign exchange, we want to see the creation of jobs.
“I don’t want monies to go towards paying somebody’s bill just like that; we want this economy to be fully stimulated. I want to see businesses that are going to start at this level and by the next generation get to the next level and go on and on. I want to see more second and third generation businesses around here,” Inniss explained.