Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Esworth Reid. (FP)

Government will be taking a National Micro, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises (MSMEs) Bill to Parliament before year end.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Esworth Reid, disclosed this yesterday, while delivering an address on behalf of Minister Dwight Sutherland, during the release of findings of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries’ COVID-19 Impact Study, at the company’s Harbour Industrial Estate, St. Michael headquarters.

He also announced that there would be additional measures to enhance the sector.

Mr. Reid told his audience that when enacted, it would create the legislative space to facilitate expanding growth in the MSME sector.  He also spoke about additional comprehensive legislative measures to benefit the sector.

The Permanent Secretary said the Ministry had successfully negotiated a technical assistance package for the sector, facilitated through the United Nations Development Fund, and administered through the Trust Loan Fund.

He said more details on the programme and how to access the fund will be communicated shortly.

Mr. Reid also touted the Vending and Markets Facilitation Bill that would, among other things, “decriminalise and reposition vending and allow vendors to trade freely and without hassle, both within the physical and virtual market place”.

He also reminded attendees that the much-talked about Financial Literacy Bureau would be a reality, albeit virtually, in the first instance from mid-August, and with the creation of satellite clinics by year end.

Mr. Reid said the Bureau will improve the “general livelihood of our nation’s youth, households, the general business sector through training, thereby promoting a culture of financial literacy and wealth creation in Barbados”.

The Permanent Secretary further disclosed that the Ministry had drafted a Business Sector Strategy to allow operators within the sector to business network and communicate any challenges in relation to marketing, finance and high costs of sourcing inputs, that could result in business failure.

Mr. Reid said the Ministry was also partnering with strategic partners to develop a Junior Stock Exchange for the sector, which was now at an advanced stage.

He stated that while he accepts the survey’s findings for greater advocacy on behalf of the sector regarding its interaction with government, he believes that it is necessary to have a whole governance approach to the development of MSMEs.

The Permanent Secretary reiterated government’s commitment to providing the enabling framework to allow local businesses to quickly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, while utilising their strengths to increase service exports.

He also said the $20 million Wage Subsidy Fund was still available to those micro, small and medium-sized sectors, which retained 75 per cent of staff during the pandemic.  

Mr. Reid encouraged businesses to apply, and save on their wage bill up to $500 per month for two months, for a maximum of five employees.

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