Co-owner of Doyle’s Offshore Sails David Staples has made a strong case for the restart of the Barbados Development Bank (BDB).
The state-owned financial institution, which provided loans for new business enterprises, was closed in 1996 as part of the then Government’s restructuring of the financial sector. However, while highlighting the importance of such a facility to the viability of the country’s business sector, Staples said he was prepared to put some of his own money towards its restart.
Speaking during his company’s 30th anniversary celebration on Wednesday night, Staples told the gathering, which included Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss and parliamentary representative for St Philip West Dr David Estwick, that the BDB had played a key role in the start up of the Six Roads, St Philip business, which now boasts of close to USD$2 million in export sales.
“The Barbados Development Bank was instrumental in our getting started. We raised the princely sum of 265 thousand dollars mainly to buy equipment and after three or four years we paid the loan down . . . Unfortunately it was an institution that was abused but today I would like to celebrate the Barbados Development Bank. I would like to put money forward to start a new Barbados Development Bank,” the businessman said.
He contended it was unbelievable that no such facility currently existed to cater to the development of new enterprises.
“We don’t have any locally owned banks and I think that the BDB as well as the YES [Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme] form the function that no one else can. So I will be the first subscriber and capital to that bank,” said Staples, adding: “I really believe it is good thing.”
A similar call was made by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur back in March last year. Arthur who oversaw the entity’s closure two years after the Barbados Labour Party [BLP] came to office, suggested in a session of the Lower Chamber, that a new funding agency should tap into a database of laid-off public sector workers who have no chance of regaining their former employment but possessed the requisite skills and needed financing for prospective business ventures.
At the time, Arthur had also warned the country’s private sector to stop looking for handouts, while urging businesses to take the lead in creating new economic opportunities.
“The private sector of Barbados’ greatest skill has been to be to call for the Government to do things. But the time has come for the private sector of Barbados to be able to put in one place its own concept of a private sector-conceived, driven and implemented strategy, and that has been missing,” he said.