SBA says 'No' to business lockdownThursday, July 22, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Vice-president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), Garnett Reid, said Wednesday that the association would not agree with any decision to re-impose further limitations on its members' opening hours.
Reid said that the SBA membership is convinced that any further lock down of activities will affect their sales and plunge them into further economic demise.
“Last week at least seven small businesses that I know were forced to close down, because their businesses have been affected by crime, devaluation of the dollar and the loss of business due to the closedown of activities like 'round robins'. I think we will see a closure of small businesses at an alarming rate,” Reid, a Corporate Area motor vehicle dealer, told OBSERVER ONLINE.
He said that what the sector is looking for is increased access to vaccines, so that a much wider population can benefit from taking the jabs, and an effort to enforce the protocols which were introduced to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that there is also a need to improve the access of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSEs) to loans, so that they can begin to re-energise their businesses and save them from bankruptcy.
He noted that while the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) had recently announced a project to inject some $2 billion in loans into the sector, most small businesses have been unable to access the funds because of “red tape”.
“The money is there but we are not getting it. The red tape is too long. They have to reduce the red tape at the DBJ and the EX-Im Bank,” he remarked.
In June, Minister of Industry, Investments and Commerce, Audley Shaw, announced that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) would now be able to access $675 million in additional funding support from the Government, under the new 4.75 per cent MSME Loan Programme.
The facility, which was officially launched on June 24, is being spearheaded by the Ministry, through portfolio agency EX-IM Bank, in tandem with Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL).
Shaw said that the programme is intended to further assist entities in the productive sector that have been adversely impacted by the economic fallout resulting from the pandemic, by facilitating increased access to affordable financing.
He said that EX-IM Bank will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which will be able to borrow between $5 million and $25 million under similar terms.
He said that the loan programme has been designed to be another tool in the arsenal of EX-IM's RESET Programme, an acronym used to focus on the country's efforts to Rebuild, Engage and Stabilize the Economy Together, and to stimulate the economy, and ensure that the small businesses sector gets the critical support that it needs.
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