Statement from Celeste Foster, president of the Barbados Small Business Association, on tomorrow’s Budget.
It is widely held that the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector will be a major contributor to the successful emergence of the economy from the recession.
It is critical therefore that the Budgetary Proposals inform policy and lead to the establishment of programmes that stabilize and stimulate the sector.
Stabilization efforts include ensuring access to adequate sources of financing. There is the need for rapid response mechanisms to ensure that loan and venture capital can be easily accessed by SMEs. Equally, the earlier announced receivable factoring programme needs to find its way to implementation for the benefit of small firms.
Additionally, a framework that increases access to entrepreneurial training and technical assistance, and enables firms to do business more economically are all stabilizing factors. This will require economic policies which ensure that key inputs in business operations, such as diesel and utilities, are affordable to the small businesses.
Since Governments do not trade, the private sector must create employment and earn foreign exchange. Governments should however ensure that an enabling environment for trade is stimulated. We recommend legislation that incentivises business development – further amendments to the Small Business Development Act, inclusive of provisions for microenterprises to encourage crossover into the formal sector . . . .
The use of information communication technology (ICT) as the vehicle to reach and expand export markets is of critical importance. Therefore a framework which enables free access to Internet connectivity up to 2MB is required. Access to resources for website development and an e-commerce platform are also requisite for the ICT framework to stimulate SME development.
The business environment has changed and Government’s role must be to create an environment that facilitates growth.