Government Senator Lynette Holder wants micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to get a piece of the second Energy Smart Fund which will soon come on stream.
She noted that under the first fund, small businesses could not afford the grants and low interest loans which were placed at a minimum of $150 000. She therefore suggested that provisions be put in place to allow small businesses to borrow as little as $25 000 this time around to retrofit their operations.
“Let us learn from this exercise and recognize that we may very well need to tweak, we may very well need to improve the overall programme if we want to see the uptake from our micro, small and medium enterprises,” Holder said in her contribution to debate on the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Senate today.
“The minimum amount accessed by an individual applicant is $150 000. Yes, the interest rate was attractive enough, but $150 000 [was high] and therefore there was not the level of uptake that we wanted to see. I want to suggest that we consider lowering that amount to smaller chunks.”
Senator Holder noted that in an effort to move towards establishing a renewable energy society, the Government in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the European Union (EU) would establish the Energy Smart Fund 2 which is intended to help Barbados achieve the goal of becoming a fossil free country by 2030.
It will look at retrofitting public buildings using performance-based contracts and also improving efficiency in renewable energy through a lending scheme to be administered by the Enterprise Growth Fund.
Holder, who is also the chief executive officer of the Small Business Association, suggested that a combination of grants be introduced to allow firms to access the resources to conduct energy audits.
“We boast, Mr President, of being the first country in this hemisphere to have developed this technology but we only use it in our homes, we only use it to warm our water. We need to be able to move to the stage where those types of businesses can move to the point where they literally retrofit their operations so as to move away from the fossil fuel, but also to bring down their energy costs. And as you are able to bring your energy costs down, then the inputs into your operations are reduced and ultimately it makes your product a lot cheaper, it makes your product a lot more competitive, especially if you are looking to export,” Holder said.