Shaw announces $600-million transfer to MSMEs

GOVERNMENT has earmarked $600 million to be transferred to the EXIM Bank to provide affordable financing for micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) businesses during the current fiscal year.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw told the House of Representatives Tuesday that just over $200 million will be immediately transferred to the sector, as a result of the closure of the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA), and a further $400 million will be made available later this year.

Shaw, who was making his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate, said the country is recovering faster and stronger.

“Additionally, during the financial year, the EXIM Bank plans to on-lend approximately $5.5 billion to the productive sector. The mandate given to the EXIM Bank is to ensure that these funds are made available to support greater access to finance and to improve export performance,” he said.

He said that the funds were in addition to the support already provided under the CARE Programme for the small business sector.

At the same time, Shaw said the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has solidified its role as a strong business support organisation during the past financial year. He said that the organisation reported that, among other COVID-19-induced adverse impacts, some 34 per cent of its clients experienced a reduction in sales and 22 per cent had to close temporarily.

He said that the JBDC responded with a number of strategic actions to support the small business sector, chief among these being the accelerated use of digital and online options to facilitate both e-commerce and business development services.

“I must pause here to say that in the $5-billion allocation from the Ministry [of Finance] $1 billion was dedicated to what we call Go Digital and it is recognised that digital transformation is critical to our business landscape and in particular for our MSMEs. One of these initiatives is the newly-minted public-private partnership with Sagicor Bank for the establishment of the Sagicor Business Resource Centre to assist local MSMEs,” he explained.

“Through the bank’s partnership with the JBDC, MSMEs utilising the Sagicor Business Resource Centre will benefit from an all-encompassing suite of business support services,” he added.

Shaw said that the bank’s clients will also have access to all of JBDC’s services and partner programmes along with a structured system to manage the clients through the Corporation’s existing centralised client management system.

“There will also be opportunities to work with the bank to create innovative funding solutions for various industries, especially those that are underfunded, despite having significant potential,” he added.

There are 13 business support centres operated by the JBDC across the island, in partnership with various stakeholders, including educational institutions.

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