Manager of the barbecue sauce business Auntie Phyllis, Wayne Ifill (left), showing his line of products to Minister of Energy and Business, Kerrie Symmonds, at the Business Fair and Expo. (T. Barker/BGIS)

The Ministry of Energy and Business and the Ministry of Finance are working together on interventions to bring some relief to the public.

Minister of Energy and Business, Kerrie Symmonds, made this disclosure today as he spoke to the media at the Business Fair and Expo – the Community Edition, at Hoytes Pavilion and Playing Field, Hoytes Village, St. James. 

Mr. Symmonds said: “We have already started the process of collaborating with the Ministry of Finance on other types of intervention across the Barbados economy more widely. One of them…is looking at the cost of electricity, another is the cost of gasoline.”

The Minister noted that in the case of fuel, the Prime Minister had intervened in the Budgetary Proposal on March 14 to bring some relief. However, he stated that the intervention had been “largely caught up with, if not overtaken”, by the daily rising cost of fuel.

“This is a challenge … everywhere in the world and every government is faced with the difficulty of how best do we intervene in order to bring a measure of mitigation to the pain that the consumers are feeling. So, these are things we are working on right now. I am not in a position to make a positive announcement of any specifics.

“But I want to give the public the calm assurance that this has not escaped us, and the Prime Minister, no less, has been in collaboration with my Ministry with a view [to] trying to see what we can do, and what we would be able to achieve would soon be shortly announced,” he assured. 

Mr. Symmonds said with no cruise ships coming this summer, the plight of the taxi operators in the Bridgetown Port “is bothering” him. He expressed the view that Government must find a way to intervene and bring some sort of assistance to them.

Minister of Energy and Business, Kerrie Symmonds, sampling one of the products offered by Happy Treats, as the company’s Talicia Lewis, looks on. (T. Barker/BGIS)

“So I am formulating a proposal, which would be very similar…to what we did in the pandemic when we had the national pause…, with a view to seeing whether [Ministry of] Finance will assist us in trying to provide some sort of a package to bring a level of relief for those folks, who…, through no fault of their own, are stuck in a difficult situation,” he disclosed.

During the fair and expo, the first 50 persons who registered a business name at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office’s booth, paid 50 per cent of the cost of a business name registration.

And, Minister Symmonds said this initiative was introduced to make it easier for small business people, as difficult economic times are being felt not just here, but across the region and the world. 

“The reality is though that you have to find ways and means of helping people by different types of interventions and to think outside the box. The desire that I have is for every business in Barbados to be registered and to be official.

“Unless you are registered and you are official, then the Ministry can’t really help you because we don’t know who you are, what you do and when there is a crisis, as happened in the pandemic, … we have to know that the people we are trying to help are in fact legitimate. So you need to be known, we want to get people to register therefore,” he explained.

Some of the locally made products on display at the Business Fair and Expo. (T. Barker/BGIS)

The Minister said legislation to support a collateral registry was being worked on, and substantial progress had been made in identifying a model on which to base it. The Jamaica model, he pointed out, was the only one in the Caribbean thus far.

“I am particularly impressed, I have had some meetings with the people in Jamaica on what they are doing and I know the type of legislative structure that we have to put in place to support it. We have met with the banking community here and the credit unions as well in order to get them to understand the importance of coming on board in support of this kind of effort,” he disclosed.

Mr. Symmonds added that he would also have to meet with the Caribbean Development Bank because technical assistance and cooperation at a high level would be required.

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