If Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds gets his way, all businesses operating in Barbados would at least be registered with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and pay contributions.
Symmonds said it was necessary that organizations become regularised with the insurance scheme, especially since this would make it easier for them to receive assistance from government.
“There has to be a way of making sure there are standards. There has to be a way of making sure that people are part of the system and that the system is able to relate to people who are operating.
“So that for those people who have been able to genuinely demonstrate what they do, then we must be able to work with them and partner with them in their development,” he said.
Symmonds was addressing his parliamentary colleagues recently as he sought a supplementary of $3.5 million to provide financial assistance for thousands of MSME operators who have been affected by the February 3 to 17 lockdown.
The funds are to be administered through the FundAccess and Trust Loan facilities to eligible firms that have signed up through the Department of Commerce.
Stating that the sign-up exercise had revealed that there was a “wide range of business operations” in Barbados, Symmonds said: “we have identified a flaw and we have to correct it and we will move with dispatch to do that because there has to be wider and better registration”.
While not disclosing what plans would be put in place to encourage wider registration of businesses with the relevant state departments, Symmonds said “we must discourage folks from disappearing under the radar because we cannot help develop business if we don’t know that the business is existing in a formal way”.
“That therefore means that we need for people now to be part of the NIS system, I am reliably informed that of a minimum payment of about $20 to $25 a week one can be compliant with the NIS,” he said.
“Come into the system because today, the challenge for the Ministry of Finance, the challenge for the Ministry of Commerce will be to make certain that you are able to reach out to the vendors who are selling along the highways but have not registered with anybody, but we want to help those people because they need help too,” he explained.
Under the stimulus programme for small businesses, Symmonds had earlier indicated that he was aware that there were approximately 1,444 registered shops who were qualified to receive the $1,500 for the two-week lock down period, while about 1,500 registered vendors are to receive a total of $500 for the same period.
Under the laws of Barbados, a micro enterprise is considered one with five or fewer people and earn under $25,000 per year; a small business is a company with up to 25 employees and earn up to $2 million and has no more than $1 million in capital; a medium-sized enterprise is one that employs more than 25 workers and earn up to $5 million annually.