Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, said the BEST Plan was the kind of critical public policy response needed in the current economic environment. (FP)

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, has emphasised the importance of the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) Plan, saying it was designed to solve a number of pressing matters in the economy, including keeping businesses away from bankruptcy.

Mr. Straughn said the BEST Plan, which is a stimulus package, was the kind of critical public policy response needed in the current economic environment.  It was announced recently by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason during the opening of the Second Session of Parliament.

While addressing ICAB’s online Public Sector Conference 2020 today, the Minister explained that this response was part of Government’s reengineering to ensure as much economic activity as possible took place.  He added that just as Government had moved to put state-owned enterprises on a sound financial footing, this must also obtain for those private sector enterprises participating in the BEST Plan.

“It means that all of those entities now which will have investment via the taxpayer, would equally have to have the same rigorous approach being brought to bear, because…the use of public funds for private activity demands, obviously, a greater level of accountability.  Therefore, the team that would be put in place to monitor that would equally have to come from members within your organisation.

“It is important that we understand the monitoring, with respect to how the taxpayers will be repaid, the activities [and] spending….  We reiterate that there will be no dividends paid under the programme because, ultimately, taxpayers are coming to the rescue of private enterprise and therefore that is one of the preconditions for participating in the programme.  [In addition], no exorbitant increases in management expenses and the like with respect to getting money out of the operations, simply because these are the very fundamental things that are required to ensure that we protect the interests of the taxpayer,” he stated.

Mr. Straughn explained that once the revenue of those entities reached about 90 per cent, Government could retreat from the support, so repayment could commence.

“Ninety per cent should be relatively close to whatever your break-even point is with respect to your revenues.  Therefore, it means that we would have achieved the objective of … saving those businesses and ensuring that the level of business closure in the economy is at a minimum,” he added.

The Minister said the portfolio of the Office of the Supervisor of Insolvency had now been brought under the Ministry of Finance and underscored this move in this COVID-19 environment.

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