Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland has today dispelled rumours that his ministry’s signature trust loans programme, has been halted.
This morning Sutherland told Barbados TODAY that what has been rumoured as a stoppage of the programme, was in fact a bottleneck in the system, which was overwhelmed by a large number of applicants.
“If I halt the programme at the Trust Loans, I know I would need a job tomorrow. There is absolutely no truth to that. What has happened is that we had a backlog of applicants. If you look at what the trust loan has done since we came to office, over 2,000 loans have passed through the Trust Loans Unit. If you look around, there is no other entity that provides seed capital that can say to you that within less than a year, over 2,000 loans have passed through it,” the Minister said, making it clear that the Trust Loan Unit is not out of funds.
However back in May, Sutherland in an interview with Barbados TODAY had revealed that over 2,000 Trust Loans were disbursed up to that time.
The Government’s $10 million financial lifeline for startup businesses was launched last November. Under the programme, applicants can qualify for loans of up to $5,000, with an opportunity to borrow twice the amount on successful repayment of the initial loan. In recent times persons have complained that they have been unable to get their applications processed, leading to speculation about the viability of the fund.
However, in responding to these concerns this morning, at the official re-opening of the Massy supermarket at Oistins, Sutherland urged persons to be patient instead of giving rise to speculation.
“It is not a big unit and people have to be patient, what I recognise sometimes is that there is a level of impatience when it comes to our systems and indeed when we get that level of impatience stepping in, people begin going around saying all sorts of things,” he said.
The Minister gave the assurance that the backlog should be cleared by as early as next week and new persons can again begin to access the fund.
“We were treating to our accounting system; we were treating with the backlog of loans and indeed that requires a slowing down of the system in order to get that backlog brought under control. I will assure you that as the Minister charged with the responsibility of building our small businesses in this country and providing seed capital, that we do not have a problem at the Trust Loan. It is business as usual and we ask the public to bear with us as we seek to address this backlog over the next week, “ he stressed.
Last May, Sutherland revealed that despite there being a month remaining of a six-month grace period, persons who have borrowed from the fund, have already begun to repay. He pointed out that while some may have been skeptical about a loan system that was not collateral-based, early indications were quite positive for the revolving loan scheme.
“The repayment of these loans is supposed to come at the end of May. Initially we had given a six-month grace period, we recognize this was a long period, but people have started repaying the loan within two months of us issuing the loan. People are definitely living up to the whole idea of trust, which is the whole idea behind these loans,” Sutherland told Barbados TODAY then. [email protected]