by Marlon Madden
As the country celebrates Small Business Week 2021, the support and development of the micro and small business sector, especially in the Covid-19 environment, should be the priority for key stakeholders within the sector.
This is according to Democratic Labour Party (DLP) spokesman on entrepreneurship and small business Ryan Walters.
He said the advancement of the small business sector in Barbados hinges on its ability to establish and quantify its contribution to the economy in a formal way.
“No longer can the representative bodies within the sector be seen as pressure groups lobbying on behalf of self-employed persons, micro and small businesses. It is time to cement the rightful place of the small business community as key to our economy’s development,” said Walters.
“This is important not only to capture the sector’s current contribution to garner support, but also to pave a way for new entrepreneurial entrants,” he said.
He was speaking against the backdrop of the Small Business Association’s official launch of Small Business Week 2021 last Friday.
It will be held from Sunday, September 19 to Saturday, September 25, under the theme Building Back Better: The Road to a Resilient and Resourceful Recovery.
Walters said that while historically business registration was cited as a major step to migrating to the formal economy, it was about time that this was “followed through with other regulatory compliance such as national insurance and annual tax filing”.
“But this has to be met with government’s intervention by carving out a unique space that benefits the participants in the micro and small business space,” he said.
“Government must ask a few questions – what are the individual benefits to small business owners who file taxes? How can the government allow for greater distinction between [big] business owners and the small businesses when filing?
“Is there a specific tax regime carved out within the sector that speaks to income thresholds and/or incentives? Has the National Insurance Scheme been revolutionized to capture better treatment for self-employed persons and to consider special tax rates for registered small businesses? In general, how does the self-employed, micro or small business benefit from transitioning to the formal sector?
“COVID-19 has devastated our small businesses. Those left standing are barely surviving. Now is the time for government and all stakeholders to combine intellect, ideas and experience to start to pave the way forward for this important sector,” said Walters.
Under Barbados’ laws, 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.
A self-employed individual is able to pay NIS contributions and levies on insurable earnings of up to $4,880 per month or $1,126 per week and a minimum of $21 a week or $91 a month for individuals between ages 16 and the pensionable age.