Micro, small and medium-sized businesses, many of which start small in the hands of entrepreneurs who strive to make their ideas a reality, play a significant role in the economies of many developed and developing countries around the world, and there is no reason that Barbados should be any different.
Speaking at a town hall meeting at the Cuthbert Moore Primary School in St George over the weekend, Minister of Small Business Development, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, said, “When you look at most economies, micro, small and medium sized enterprises play a key role in developing any country, and if you look at some developing countries, such businesses account for at least 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. There were some who thought I would not have much to do when the Prime Minister separated my ministry from International Business, but our mission is to return growth to this country within a short space of time.”
One of the catalysts for growth he identified was the renewable energy sector, which he said would have a significant impact on some of the smaller enterprises. He noted that Cabinet had recently approved two measures that will give that sector a much needed boost.
“Cabinet has just approved a renewable energy policy, something Barbados never had before, and only two weeks ago at another Cabinet meeting we examined rates for renewable energy providers. Coming out of that meeting, we recommended that the Fair Trading Commission should engage a consultant to set rates for investors in biomass, solar and wind energy, and the scheduled date for completion of that process is the end of July this year. Once this happens, it should unlock the renewable energy industry, which I guarantee you will enhance our GDP by more than ten per cent.”
Sutherland said his ministry was also creating a Small Business Centre that will monitor the growth and development of the sector in a more meaningful way. “You can give people things, but you have to see the impact they have on GDP. Presently there are three officers from my ministry in Jamaica looking at that island’s small business model, which has helped that sector grow tremendously over the years. The small business centre will give us a better idea of just how well that sector is faring in terms of employment, productivity and other matters.”
The Minister also welcomed the changes to the Liquor Licenses Act, which will now come under his ministry and eliminate the hassle applicants previously faced having to go through the Magistrates Court and the Royal Barbados Police Force, and the pending introduction of a dedicated commercial Court. On the latter, he cited the case of the now defunct airline RedJet, which still has not been resolved after more than a decade. “This company filed for bankruptcy some years ago, and when you file for bankruptcy or insolvency, you have to speak to your creditors, then apply to the court once the creditors approve of process by which you will pay them back. Because of the tardiness of the court system, ten years after the case was filed, it never came up and the director of RedJet who was responsible for the plan to repay the creditors died.”
Sutherland stated that with the incentives to streamline the ease of doing business in Barbados, this country will once again enjoy significant levels of economic growth.