Junior Minister of Trade Marlon Penn has vowed to get tough on entrepreneurs who have been refusing to repay monies borrowed through the government’s National Business Bureau, adding that potential beneficiaries of the revolving loan programme are being affected by the level of delinquency.
Penn also noted that, based on a study undertaken, some persons who are delinquent are in a position to repay their respective loans.
“We have problems with persons meeting their obligations even though research has shown some of them could meet their obligations. But, as usual, everyone wants to take the government for a free ride.”
“We are going to come after you; we need to honour our commitment especially when you can. That’s the unfortunate thing. We have seen situations where persons who are refusing to pay the programme are going to other organizations with growing financial statements and bragging of all the money that their business is making. But they are not paying back the programme,” Penn lamented.
Delinquency, he added, has far-reaching implications especially for other people who want help in establishing their small businesses.
“It’s a revolving loan programme and the funds are supposed to continue to work for all the people and all the businesses in the country. So, if you don’t pay your share, it hurts an opportunity for another entrepreneur who might need that opportunity – that break to get their businesses off the ground and running… That is not fair to the people who are paying and the people who are looking for that opportunity through the programme.”
Penn also noted that, initially, some persons were expecting grants from the government although the facility is a loan programme.
“We had some issues in the initial arrangements with some of the businesses that were able to get loans. Some people thought it was a grant programme versus a loan programme,” Penn said during a recent sitting of the House of Assembly.
He promised to revamp the initiative.
“We actually just undertook a process to revamp the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that governs the relationship with the bank, the government and the Department of Trade. We are finalizing that process; we are hopeful to have that programme reinstated in short order… So Premier [Dr D Orlando Smith], we are getting that programme strengthened. We have hired two individuals to sort of help with the support of that programme,” added the junior minister of trade.
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