Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds, addressing the media launch of the Barbados Trust Fund Limited’s Let’s Talk Entrepreneurship initiative, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Government is making efforts to “blunt the impact” of the increasing world prices on consumers, as a result of the war in the Ukraine.

Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds, underscored this point today, as he delivered the feature address at the media launch of the Barbados Trust Fund Limited’s Let’s Talk Entrepreneurship initiative, an online forum and talk series, which will begin on Tuesday, March 15.

Mr. Symmonds noted that the US Government had recently signalled that its inflation rate had grown, and that growing inflation would have an effect on countries.

“Now Barbados is not a net exporting and producing country, we are actually a net importing country, and we are going…to import a large amount of that inflation, which is being recorded right now across continental United States, across the European continent and right across the world.

“And the simple reason is, that as long as market prices start to increase, there is going to be a knock on effect for all of us who do a lot of importation; global prices are moving upwards.  Now there’s going to be … some effort made on the part of this Government to blunt the impact of those prices and basically to shield consumers as best as we can, to mitigate the imported effect of that inflation. But I do believe that as householders and business people, we have to brace ourselves for the inevitability of that which comes our way,” he stated.

Underscoring the importance of the Let’s Talk Entrepreneurship initiative, he said it was necessary to have concrete conversations about core developmental issues.  

He stressed that business people must receive vital information on key issues such as marketing, managing taxes, National Insurance, registering a business, standards, and succession planning.

Mr. Symmonds stated that he was keen for a debt conversation to occur, as he pointed out that debt was one of the “nooses” wrapped around the neck of entrepreneurial endeavours in Barbados, and stifling the life of entrepreneurship. He warned that debt could prove disastrous for those embarking on an entrepreneurial journey if it was not managed.

He noted that some were offering loans with very high interest rates and some young people were going into business and using a credit card to fuel it.  

He said some businesses failed because in difficult circumstances, when cash flow was tight, they paid bills and day-to-day inputs of the business, on money borrowed at “extortionary rates”.

“I feel that these conversations educate a public, that allows then for the policymaker at my level, to sit and say, this is the point where now we have to intervene.  

And I want the public to understand why we must intervene, because intervene we will.  I give you that assurance here today because this can’t go on in Barbados, but there has to be a point at which we are all going to walk this journey together.

“I don’t want there to be a disjointed relationship. I want people to understand when the time comes, and it will come shortly, as I said, that we will have to have a conversation with those people who are involved in lending in Barbados, in order to rein in some of the loan sharking that is taking place in business places of high finance, because we are disadvantaging a community and making it impossible for them to exist in this country.  And it is a wrong thing. And it can’t be tolerated indefinitely,” Minister Symmonds warned.

He described the Let’s Talk Entrepreneurship series as a “vital cog in the wheel” in the development and advancement of the interests of entrepreneurs, micro and small business start-ups and practitioners.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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