By Kiana Wilburg
Over the years, the Small Business Bureau has demonstrated its capacity to manage business development programmes successfully. In fact, for 2018, the Bureau is slated to embark on an initiative that will certainly give micro businesses the push needed for prosperity.
According to Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin, the Bureau has an allocation of $148M for 2018. He noted that $100M will go towards the establishment of a Small Business Development Fund. This will serve as a revolving loan fund to be able to address the needs of businesses that cannot meet the requirements of the traditional banking system.
Gaskin explained that the effective implementation of a sustainable revolving fund will limit the erosion of the fund’s capital. He stated that this will be achieved through careful screening of applicants prior to referral to the programme; frequent review of the performance of the revolving fund; favourable interest rates; and shorter repayment periods (not more than one year) to allow for timely revolving of funds.
The Business Minister said that next year, the Small Business Bureau also intends to implement a programme where it will register companies that meet certain criteria with regard to standards and quality.
He stated that these companies would form a list of companies that the Bureau can recommend to large companies looking to sub-contract or contract a small- or medium-sized enterprise.
Gaskin stated that advertisements would be placed by the Bureau on behalf of those companies to promote them to large enterprises. The Business Minister said that these larger enterprises can contact the Bureau whenever a business opportunity arises and the Bureau would then recommend the qualified companies in this sector of activity. If successful, Gaskin noted, this can be a great programme to promote the small businesses of Guyana.
To complement this initiative, Gaskin also revealed that in 2018, the Electronic Single Window System will receive budgetary funding for the first time, with a $10M allocation. He said that this will fund preparatory work for the implementation of the system across Government agencies.
The total cost of this project is $1.2B. It will be funded by an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan. Gaskin explained that this system is intended to automate and enhance the flow of information between businesses and regulatory agencies, resulting in a more efficient and less uncertain process for obtaining various approvals.
He said, “So you will be able to get your licences, and get your permits, and get your approvals and clearances, etc. through a single electronic window, where you will no longer have to submit the same information to ten different agencies and have them sequentially processed. You make one submission and it moves through the system automatically.”
The Business Minister further stated that his Ministry will continue its efforts in improving the ease of doing business in Guyana. With the assistance of the IDB to the tune of $10M, Gaskin said that 2018 will see more work in the area of access to credit through the establishment of a Secure Transaction Regime, which will make it easier to access credit using moveable collateral.
The Minister stated that this will entail a revision of the draft Movable Property Security Act; the establishment of a modern electronic registry for registering movable property; and the training of staff.
Regarding the ease of doing business, the Business Minister also stated that work will also be done in the area of getting construction permits – through collaboration with the Central Housing and Planning Authority, the City Engineer’s Department and other agencies involved in issuing building permits. He stated that the Ministry of Business will also seek to rationalise an application process that is time-bound and efficient.
Gaskin said, “Work will continue on two new Industrial Estates in Lethem and in Belvedere, East Berbice. The Lethem Estate is expected to create an economic hub in Lethem that can attract investors interested in producing for the Brazilian market. Once the road from Lethem to the coast is finally constructed, this estate will have a reliable road link to the Atlantic coast and to international shipping lanes.”
The Business Minister continued, “The Department of Industry has also begun the Design and Construction of two Business incubators on the two new industrial estates. This initiative is designed to create an enabling environment for the development of micro and small enterprises.”
He added, “Business space and equipment will be provided to these businesses, together with a supporting environment in which they can start-up a business with the help of a support programme that will provide training and other assistance, and work with them until they become independent enough to leave the incubator and open up space for the next individual.”
With attention to be paid to quality and standards as well as business skills, the Business Minister stated that the programme is expected to accelerate the business development of numerous small operators.
The Ministry of Business is also expected to seek a consulting firm to develop a prospectus for the estate along with an operations plan. This project will continue into 2018. The sum of $350,000 has been allocated for this venture.
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