Co-operatives have been given the assurance that Government will aid their thrust towards expansion and growth.
The commitment came last Saturday as Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, addressed International Co-operators’ Day 2018 celebrations, hosted at Pelican Village on the Princess Alice Highway.
Assuring members of Government’s support, Mr. Sutherland stressed it was his Ministry’s mission to facilitate the expansion of the entrepreneurial class in the country and to drive growth.
He said: “It is very clear to Government that we must balance fiscal austerity with growth or else we will come to a standstill. Growth is forward movement and to this end, we are committed to providing the much needed start-up capital for small and medium enterprises.
“We are going to remove a lot of the red tape and requirements that have hitherto been prohibitive for enterprising persons starting their businesses. We therefore need to work with you in this sector to achieve synergies with other platforms of growth and in turn, give you a higher return on your investments.”
Co-operative members also heard that Government would seek to ensure the movement and its constituent businesses, farmers co-ops and credit unions, were included in shaping policy processes, particularly related to sustainability issues. Emphasising it was his role to make this happen, the Minister urged them to hold him accountable for including this sector as a driver in national growth.
Mr. Sutherland was also of the view that one of the most pressing problems being encountered by communities around the country was “the lack of opportunities for young people facing long stretches of unemployment, working in unfulfilling jobs, or simply searching for a better way of doing business”.
Stating that Barbadian society needed to explore innovative strategies to generate growth and employment, he encouraged co-operatives to perform this role, and suggested that the co-operative model could offer alternative strategies based on self-help and self-responsibility.
“In my view, now is the time to innovate, to come to the Government with big ideas and to share what your needs are to move from ideas to reality. Tell me, tell us, if there are laws, systems, policies and processes that impede your growth and we will seek to address them in a positive way. Co-operatives offer hope and practical solutions for building a fairer society and we need your voices to be heard much louder,” he said, vowing to do his part to support Co-operative growth and strategic positioning nationally.