Former Government Senator Dr Lynette Holder has pledged to turn up the pressure on government as she continues to highlight matters that affect the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector and the credit union movement.
Holder, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA), served as a government senator under the last Mia Mottley led administration from June 2018 to December 2021 ahead of the January 19 general elections.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY moments before Mottley announced her new picks for the Senate, Holder said she was “reasonably satisfied” that she continued to shed light on the plights of the small business community even while being a senator “on the government’s side”.
“Obviously you can always do a lot more. I don’t know that you will ever be 100 per cent satisfied with what you have done, but I am reasonably satisfied that I have spoken up on issues relative to the sector and would have kept the sector ever more at the forefront of a lot of my presentations, my thoughts, my advocacy, because of the fact that I understand and appreciate the significance of this sector to economic and social development,” she said.
“Granted that, as you know as a government senator, because you are on the government side you are expected to support government’s agenda, but equally I have given my voice to the issues relative to the sector and to the issues relative to the credit union as well during the period. So I am relatively satisfied about that,” she said.
Holder, who has been at the helm of the SBA for the past 15 years, and an advocate for the sector years prior, said she was aware people were a lot more demanding of results and wanted leaders of organisations to help them achieve those results.
She said it was against that backdrop that she would be ramping up her advocacy for the MSME sector in order to help bring about positive change.
“Persons today are a lot more vocal on what their issues are and they are a lot more demanding of a need for results and for things to be done. So they are not as tolerant as in the past and not as accepting of the ‘I will get back to you’; this kind of laissez faire type of response that we know many politicians have given.
“They are more demanding today, more results focused and driven today and therefore I intend to ensure that my voice is added to that because of this particular season that we are in. People are not as tolerant as before and they expect that with all of the taxes they are paying and all that is happening they expect greater results from their leaders” said Holder.
Pointing to the hardship facing the MSME sector as a result of taxes, the rising cost of living, difficulty in doing business and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered an economic predicament for businesses, Holder said advocacy was even more critical at this stage.
“I have been advocating now and in this field for close to 20 years, specifically with the SBA for some time and as the Lord gives me breath I plan on continuing because we have been through a lot of crises and from where I sit in the small business sector as an administrator . . . I have seen several crises and I have been at the forefront with colleagues trying to keep the banner of the sector high. But this crisis is different because of it not just being a health crisis, but a health crisis that has caused an economic crisis,” said Holder.
She was unable to give figures, but noted that a number of small businesses had shut shop over the past two years because of high operating costs and the pressure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. (MM)