The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) wants to know the status of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) $60 million dollar loan.
The loan is to support Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME), under the Global Credit Programme for Safeguarding the Productive Sectors and Employment. On April 20, 2021, the Prime Minister Mia Mottley signed on Barbados on to the loan.
According to IDB’s website, the objective of this operation is to support the sustainability of MSMEs to maintain employment and economic activity in Barbados in response to the crisis caused by COVID-19.
The specific objectives are: (i) to support the short-term financial sustainability of MSME; and (ii) to promote the economic recovery of MSME through access to productive financing.
However, three months after little is known about the loan. Addressing the issue, DLP spokesperson on business Ryan Walters told Today’s BUSINESS that the DLP wants Government to tell Barbados the status of the loan to date.
“Which financial institutions are onboard with the programme? Is there a cap to the amount that each business will be able to access? Has any funds been disbursed to date?” Walters asked.
The party’s First Vice President said news of the loan was great for the sector, who by and large are unable to secure financing from financial institutions because of lack of or no guarantees to secure the amount being borrowed.
However, Walters chided Government for not availing the relevant information so that the loan could be accessed.
“It is a shame and disgrace that the Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship has not launched a campaign to sensitise micro, small and medium sized business owners about access to loans that can now be guaranteed through the Central Bank of Barbados.”
He added: “Three months have passed and there has been no word from the Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship on how small business in Barbados can have access to the funding.
“It is intended that the loans will be administered through registered financial institutions in Barbados, and once approved, will be guaranteed by the Central Bank of Barbados.”
The Vice President said the DLP had called for an almost similar programme on February 13, 2021. He therefore commended the Government for entering into the loan arrangement but cautioned them not to sit on the money.
“We urge Government not to sit idly by while small businesses continue to struggle, lay of people and even close their doors.
“What sense is there to have $60 million dollars sit by when people go unemployed and economic activity and growth continues to be stifled because of lack of targeted initiatives on the part of the Government,” Walters stated. (IMC)