The Small Business Development Fund (SBDF) has been allocated $100 million in the National Budget of 2020 to provide prospective small business owners with loans and grants. This was announced by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, who was tasked with presenting the national budget to the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The SBDF is designed to assist small business owners with loans and grants to develop their businesses and sees a maximum of $200,000 being granted per business/person. The fund is expected to promote innovativeness and entrepreneurship in Guyana as well as equip citizens with means to contribute to a growing economy. During the budget presentation, Edghill stated that the government is assessing the practicality of expanding the grant program to accommodate a higher allocation than the current $200,000 limitation.
The Fund would have last seen an allocation in December 2018. This was due to Guyana’s political situation, as the no-confidence motion was passed halting all Parliamentary proceedings.
At the presentation of the National Budget for 2019, former Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin had announced a $100 million allocation to the SBDF. He stated that the allocation was aimed at improving access to training and financing for micro and small businesses in the country and it would also serve as a revolving loan fund to address the needs of businesses that cannot meet the requirements of the traditional banking system.
At the National Budget presentation for 2020 Minister Edghill also disclosed a $212M allocation to the Small Business Bureau’s measures in support of private sector development, especially small businesses. Under this allocation, monies will be taken to equip and operationalize the business incubators at Lethem and Belvedere.
Gaskin had previously told the National Assembly that the agenda of the SBB for 2019 would include the continuation of its “lead role” in the business incubator program and he further announced a $40 million allocation for providing furniture and equipment for two incubators that were supposed to become operational last year.
In this year’s budget presentation, other measures to boost private sector development were announced by Minister Edghill. He stated that, “Other measures include an allocation of $10M to the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development Programme.” He further added that the programme will ensure that the intended outcomes of small and micro business development and livelihood improvements are being demonstrably achieved.
Other measures include reversing the Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity, water, machinery and equipment, exports, and materials for the construction sector and quite a few others. Edghill stated that “These measures are towards improving the viability of small business start-ups and the sustainability of existing businesses.”
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