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Gov’t secures $2M CDB loan for local commerce, entrepreneurship

Gov’t secures $2M CDB loan for local commerce, entrepreneurship

The Office of the Premier and its partners have secured a $2 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for trade and economic development.

While making her contributions to the ongoing budget debate in the House of Assembly today, the Junior Minister for Trade & Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles said the money received is specifically earmarked for local commerce and entrepreneurship.

“This will not be ‘get out of jail free’ grants carelessly distributed based on a whim. There will be careful criteria developed to ascertain the various tiers of businesses, the degree to which they impact their economy and the most efficient resource allocation for their support,” Flax-Charles said.

The Junior Minister also stressed that the government must not be ‘fast and loose’ with the concept of loans.

Past political interference

She said political interference, in the past, has allowed governments to essentially defraud themselves by lending or guaranteeing money to businesses with virtually no repayments being made.

“This culture of carelessness, selfishness and government spoon-feeding dependence must die. Real entrepreneurs of course need help, but their existence is carved from solid rock with diamond-hard resilience, courage and innovative tactics. If we are to build businesses with regional prowess and capacity we must discard our unhealthy practices and begin to function like globally-minded business people,” the Junior Minister stated.

Fair and transparent distribution of funds

Flax-Charles also said the process of securing loans or grants by local businesses will be fair and transparent.

“Do not expect that if 250,000 is earmarked for direct grants, you, or a shrouded combination of your businesses or your family’s businesses will be able to walk away with 125,000. A viable economy is built on diversity and diversity is child to variety. We cannot put all our eggs in one basket, or more precisely said. We cannot put all our eggs in your basket,” the first-term legislator stated.

She continued: “Be reasonable, I understand need, but it is always a shock when I see requests from individuals for tens of thousands of dollars from allocations just barely over $100,000.”

The Junior Minister encouraged businesses to operate in a united way if they want the territory to shed the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy.

Targeted investment in BVI’s entrepreneurial capacity

She also mentioned that the monies obtained through the CDB is intended to make a wholesale targeted investment into the entrepreneurial capacity of the Virgin Islands.

“This means key management, not just in terms of putting in place and enforcing criteria but also offering recipients of programme support and awards the tools they need to progress. We will be rolling out several capacity building initiatives targeted at training entrepreneurs building on their natural potential,” Flax-Charles said.

“This will include workshops on branding, marketing, networking, money management, collaborating with the banks, human resources and even building and using regional resources for business,” the Junior Minister added.


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