By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The deputy prime minister yesterday urged entrepreneurs to have patience with the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) as it lacks the necessary staff to meet all private sector demands in a timely manner.
K Peter Turnquest, speaking outside the Cabinet Office yesterday, said: “This is a challenge for us, trying to get the resources we need in order to be able to serve the increasing demand for the services at the SBDC. In some instances, we are victims of our own success because the programme has been going so well in helping people who have not had an opportunity to benefit from capital and credit so they can realise their dreams.
“There has been an overwhelming demand, and basically the demand is overrunning the resources in terms of the people that we have there to serve these needs. We recognise that, and we’re trying to address that situation. One of the things we’re careful about is we don’t want the administration cost for this programme to become so heavy that we don’t have the resources to help the actual people.
“So it’s a matter of trying to balance these things, and I do ask for continued patience from the public as we try to work through it. Certainly it is our intention to try to make this as streamlined and as efficient as possible,” the deputy prime minister continued.
“I do note that there is some bureaucracy trying to creep into the process, and we’re working with the team down there to try and make sure that we don’t get into that kind of scenario and that we are efficient with what we do, serving people as quickly as possible so that they can help us to recover this economy.”
The Government has allocated $55m in the upcoming 2020-2021 Budget to support micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs), including a further $30m allocation for the Business Continuity Loan initiative that is designed to keep firms in business and provide them with payroll support.
Turning to the Goverment’s $250m borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the latter approved on Monday, Mr Turnquest said: “The $250m we are getting from the IMF is in this current fiscal year. That is the balance of the borrowing authority that we had on the 2019-2020 budget. So that will all be included in this current year.
“We’re moving now into the new fiscal year come July 1, where we will be looking at this $1.3bn borrowing resolution. We have not determined the breakdown of the borrowing yet; how much we will borrow in foreign currency versus domestic currency, and what those sources may be in terms of whether we go to the multilaterals (likes of IMF and Inter-American Development Bank) or we go to the private banking institutions, or whether we go out for a bond offering. We haven’t decided on that yet, and that will be the job for us once we get this resolution done through the summer, looking into the fall.”
Mr Turnquest said he “anticipates” that the tourism industry will rebound towards the end of 2020 and going into 2021. He also expects major construction projects to “kick off” before year-end to give another “boost” from domestic activity and foreign direct investment (FDI).