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Encourage more small businesses to develop

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Editor: The rise in the cost of living has left many Vincentians struggling and looking for answers. The Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union have been asking for a reasonable increase for their members.{{more}} A contingent of concerned citizens has been engaging Vinlec to reduce the electricity cost to the consumers. Many persons have been arguing about the facilities and the availability of medication at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. In all this, the question remains, what can be done?

I would not like to be the government of the day due to the limited resources they have and the hard decisions that they are being forced to make. There are several critical current issues that the government must resolve. These include health care, with specific reference to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, salaries for the public service, in relation to the reclassification exercise, the cost of fuel at the pump, the high cost of electricity, rising food prices. Let’s be realistic, unless the government earns revenue different other than the current taxation and the existing statutory bodies, several sectors would have to suffer for others to improve. To make matters worse, the Wall Street crisis has the potential to weaken our currency, reduce the remittances we receive and reduce the number of tourists to our shores.

In my humble opinion, our best hope of solving our problem is the development of the private sector. One initiative that conforms to my view is the CED Business Gateway Project. They have seen it fit to empower our entrepreneurs with basic skills to develop ideas and manage their businesses as effectively as possible. Nevertheless, we need to go further than this, so that the private sector would develop to its full potential.

Too often, financing has been the problem with the creation of a small business. Young and enthusiastic persons find it difficult to access funds, unless they already have security to back a loan. This limits the number of persons who are able to start a small business.

I agree that the banks and other lending institutions must manage their risk, but, being as solvent as they currently are, they should be willing to take a risk when they are presented with a good project. The NCB has seen this view and has offered small businesses loans of $15,000 or less unsecured. However, in this time of high prices this sum is not sufficient for start-up or expansion purposes of a meaningful enterprise.

Let us, therefore, encourage more small businesses to develop and expand and hence grow our economy.