Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce (centre), looks on as Chief Executive Officer of Chickmont, Dominic Defreitas (left), examines one of the birds coming off from the production line. At right is Chickmont’s General Manager, Edward Albecker. (GP)

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, is urging all small businesses to register with the National Insurance Department, so that they can access financing and assistance for their enterprises.

He made the appeal during a visit to Chickmont Foods Limited’s operations, at Lowlands, Christ Church, on Friday. 

During the visit, the Minister saw the company’s operations, and heard about the challenges facing the industry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Sutherland said the last three months for businesses had been extremely challenging, and he publicly thanked the Prime Minister for providing small businesses with a Wage Subsidy up to a maximum of  $1,000 over a two month period, and disbursed through Fund Access.

To access the fund, Mr. Sutherland said businesses were required to register with the National Insurance Department. 

“The Government wasn’t asking you to be up-to-date with your National Insurance payments; we were simply asking you to register. Some businesses shy away from it because they are not financially literate, meaning from the standpoint [of] the term financial literacy …. Some of these small businesses believe that if they register with the NIS that the Government will come after you for NIS payments and that’s not the case.”

He continued: “All the Government wants to do is to bring these small businesses from the informal sector to the formal business sector and this simply means that we are giving you an opportunity to become bankable; we are giving you the opportunity to improve your credit rating; and we are also giving you the opportunity to not only access financing, but to access assistance.”

The Minister added that Government had signed on to training opportunities for the sector through overseas agencies, and pointed out that if it was seeking grant funding to improve the sector, then the onus was on business owners to ensure they were registered in the system.

“When you sign up with the National Insurance, you are captured and known.  If we are looking to see the impact of the micro and small enterprises to GDP, it gives us more leverage to come up with an accurate figure as to how these small businesses are doing, in terms of generating revenue, their contribution to GDP, how many employees they have …. We are not asking to look into your books to see how much money you are making; we just want to help you, so register with NIS.  It could benefit some businesses,” Mr. Sutherland emphasised.

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