Financial assistance for small business during shutdown
The Government of Barbados is asking operators of minimarts, village shops, rum shops and vendors to register with the Ministry of Commerce so they can receive “financial assistance” during the two-week shutdown next month.
Addressing the nation in Thursday’s COVID-19 management update from Ilaro Court, Minister of Small Business, Kerrie Symmonds, said they heard the cry from this sector after Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced on Wednesday that village shops would be closed from February 3 to 17.
Government will be imposing new restrictions during that 15-day window to fight the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 which is now classified as community spread.
Symmonds said this assistance was coming in light of the fact that small shops and other vendors were allowed to operate during the last shutdown. There was a major outcry among Barbadians and on the call-in programmers about this development.
“Whenever there has been anywhere in the world today, cause for there to be a shutdown of the economy and economic activity, the reality is that small business and microbusiness – and by microbusiness I really mean the single operator, the entrepreneur, the one-man so to speak out there – they are the people upon whose shoulders the pain of the shutdown financially falls the hardest,” Symmonds noted.
He, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir, Minister of the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey and Minister of Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn held a meeting to find a way forward on this matter.
As such, businesses are asked to register via [email protected], providing registration details and banking/credit union information.
Government will be offering shops owners affected by the shutdown $750 a week for two weeks and $250 for vendors over the same time. Barbers, nail techs, taxi operators, beauty salons and water sports operators will also be eligible.
Symmonds said they wanted to reach out to as many categories of entrepreneurs to provide a safety net during this period.
Later during question and answer with journalists, he declined to put a figure on the cost of this assistance. (SAT)