by Marlon Madden
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is putting forward a three-phase plan which it says if implemented had the potential to increase employment while keeping small, medium and large businesses “sustained over a six-month period”.
First Vice President of the DLP Ryan Walters said the plan hinged on job creation, government helping to keep cash flow in businesses and providing security for small businesses that are seeking financing.
In relation to job creation, Walters suggested that every registered business in Barbados that file and pay taxes, hire one newemployee to work in its business for six months.
Pointing to 2016 figures, which showed that there were some 9,600 micro, small andmedium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Barbados, Walters said if half of those businesses “made the sacrifice and employ at least one new employee, we can employ about 5,000 of our families, neighbours and friends almost overnight.
“If some businesses are able to employ at least two persons the country can have 7,500 persons employed.
“Remember our first principle is that people need employment. If we are able to employ people then we automatically establish our second principle, which is that income earners spend money back into your businesses and other businesses and the money circulates within our economy. It is a domino-effect,” he said.
“As part of phase one, we are asking the government to play its part by waiving the employer National Insurance Scheme (NIS) portion of the associated employees as an incentive to support the employer by not penalising them for their kind gesture. That would save the employer 12.75 per cent of every dollar spent on participating in the adopt an employee programme. It’s a win-win,” said Walters.
Stating that it was a “small sacrifice” to ask employers to take on at least one new employee at this time, the DLP spokesman said it was “for the greater good of the country and their own business’ existence”.
“We are not holding the business owner to specific hours or rate or pay. All we ask is that the pay is fair and employees are treated in accordance with the law,” he said.
For phase two of the plan, Walters said Government should give an extension of 30 days for all NIS and Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) payments without penalty.
“Filing dates will remain the same. In addition, any amounts due to business from the Barbados Revenue Authority for Value Added Tax returns will be paid over to the businesses within 30 days.
“We are also asking Government to implement a system that allows them to fast-track payments to their vendors who are primarily small businesses,” said Walters.
“These small businesses are on the verge of collapse when the government settles its bills with them 4-6 months late.
“These cash is king initiatives are needed to help small and medium-sized businesses to maintain a steady cash flow in their businesses that allow them to keep their business open and people employed.
“Can the government afford it? Of course they can. If they can afford direct payments to tourists they can afford to give employers a temporary payment extension. Everyone needs to play their part,” he said.
Walters is also proposing that Government stands security for MSME operators who require financing for their operations but were unable to provide security.
“We are asking the government to stand in the way by utilising the Enhanced Credit Guarantee Facility at the Central Bank which is underutilised.
“This facility will act as security for small businesses that can prove to commercial banks that they have a solid and legitimate case for financing. We cannot afford to let businesses that qualify for loans but fail to have tangible security
to go under,” said Walters.
Insisting that this plan was doable, Walters, a businessman, said the Mia Mottley administration should at least consider it.
“If they cannot be implemented wholesale, take out what you can and implement it,” he recommended.