Business associations want more structured support from Government

Business associations want more structured support from Government

Friday, January 22, 2021

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Small business associations are reiterating calls for more sustainable and institutionalised forms of assistance to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that are still reeling from the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The calls follow the appeal by president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's, Janet Silvera, to the Government to provide another stimulus package for seriously impacted businesses and citizens, including displaced tourism workers who have been out of work since the global shutdown in March of last year.

According to president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) Cordell Williams-Graham, while the stimulus packages are indeed beneficial, institutionalising support to the MSME sector will help to stimulate productivity and investment in the sector, which will improve accuracy in gross domestic product measurement going forward.

“We want to reiterate the call for Government to consider coupling whatever stimulus package they are considering to include a supporting sustainable and institutionalised form of assistance to the sector, such as channelling assistance to the associations in the form of grants or other non-cash support,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Williams-Graham further indicated that this means creating more incentives for informal players to participate in the formal sectors by instituting housing, health and pension benefits for self-employed individuals, as well as training support through accelerator programmes.

“Taking this approach will build the capacity of the associations to provide better information and support to the Government's goals and initiatives to crisis-proof the sector and ensure sustainability. This will also build the capacity of the sector, in particular start-ups, where there is a 50 per cent failure rate,” she continued.

Donovan Wignall, president of the MSME Alliance, also endorsed the call made by YEA, adding that the impact of COVID-19 continues to deepen and affect already vulnerable groups in the economy.

“Nobody is going to refuse a pay out because right now cash is king — you need cash to pay your taxes and the bills. But I don't think a stimulus should be looked at as a temporary measure, COVID-19 is not going to be with us forever, so we need to use the opportunity to put in a more structured way in which the small businesses can be able to be sustainable and develop,” told the Business Report.

“During the pandemic, a lot of opportunities have presented themselves and how we do business in general has to change. And while a lot has changed over the period between March and today, we can go even further in making the interaction between the business sector and the Government a lot more efficient than currently what we have,” he said.

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