Only lip service
City of Bridgetown MP Jeffrey Bostic complained today that at a time when many unemployed Barbadians were opening their own micro and small businesses to make ends meet, the re-elected Freundel Stuart Administration was failing to live up to its recently made manifesto promises to these operators.
He said the evidence of the neglect was in this year’s Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure now being debated in the House of Assembly.
The Barbados Labour Party representative, in his maiden speech in the Lower House, also advised Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to reconsider the decision to reduce the subvention to small business sector.
“A look at the Democratic Labour Party manifesto acknowledged that the small business sector is a primary vehicle for growth in most economies. It also said that the new Government would create a reinvigorated small and medium sized business sector and this is good,” Bostic said.
“And I say it is good because the small business sector accounts for about one third of the labour force of this country. It is nothing to be scoffed at. I think it is a good idea because the City of Bridgetown comprises several micro enterprises and small businesses and this is something good for the people of the City of Bridgetown and by extension the people of Barbados.
“The difficulty that I have, however, is that when I look at the Estimates I do not see the allocation of funds to the small business sector to match the goals set out by Government, and for me something has to be done in order to allocate more resources to a sector that is critical to the development of this country,” he added.
The Barbados Labour Party spokesman said the small business subvention was “slashed by two thirds from $1.3 million in 2008 down to $400,050 and I will call on the Honourable Minister of Finance to look at this and to try to address this situation at the earliest possible opportunity”.
“This to me is a problem because all of the studies that have been carried out regarding the small business sector indicate that financing is the number one problem affecting this sector, and this is financing either for export purposes or for the building of the capacity of these businesses,” he stated.
“And at a time when the viability of enterprises remains one of the greatest challenges at the national level, I think that all efforts should be made to restore those subsidies to the levels or as close to the levels that existed back in 2008.
“I say that too at a time when the loans schemes that were created … that are not working, I believe that we should do all in our power to ensure that this sector gets the money that it deserves.”
Bostic also said he wanted Government to do more to help the poorest in society, noting that some of his constituents in the capital were affected by poverty, although he acknowledged that “Government has some challenges in allocating financial resources, given the state of things that exist at this time”. (SC)