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Government rolls out $20m in loans to SMEs

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has rolled out the government’s $20 million Covid-19 response to provide loans to small businesses. 

Source:
Date:
Updated:
TheBahamasInvestor.com
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest

Pictured: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest addresses the House of Assembly, March 30, 2020. (BIS Photo/Yontalay Bowe)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has rolled out the government’s $20 million Covid-19 response to provide loans to small businesses, ranging from $5,000 to $300,000.

Approved loans will have a payment grace period of four months.

Partnering financial institutions will facilitate the actual loan processing to include the vetting of the required information, the approvals, issuing funds, and payment collection after the four-month moratorium.

DPM Turnquest had the statements as he announced an update on the government’s stimulus measures in response to Covid-19 in the House of Assembly, March 30, 2020.


He noted that these loans are earmarked for operating costs such as paying salaries, rent, insurance, utilities, inventory and supplies.

“Existing small businesses – companies operating with a valid business license for one year or more – can apply to the programme. To be part of the initiative, companies must agree to retain 51 per cent of their staff and agree to have credit information shared with the Credit Bureau and other banking and financial institutions in the future.

“So far, the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, Cash N Go Ltd, Leno Corporate Services Ltd, Omni Financial Group Ltd, Simplified Lending Ltd, and Fidelity Bank Bahamas have agreed to participate in the programme. Hundreds of applications have already started coming in through the SBDC.”

The DPM stated as of Friday last week:

  • 616 micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) registered for assistance with the SBDC
  • Of those, 382 businesses completed the full application process
  • These businesses represent 1,082 full-time employees and 243 part-time employees
  • In total, they have formally requested approximately $14.88 million in financial assistance

He said the $20 million allocated by the government for MSMEs will ensure that all businesses which qualify have the support they need to protect income and their workforce.

The SBDC has also been one of the lead advocates for the deferral of existing loan payments by commercial banks for entrepreneurs who may already have loans with lending institutions.

“I am pleased to advise that the Bahamas Development Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), CIBC First Caribbean and Scotiabank have publicly pledged to defer loan payments for their business clients – although the terms differ by bank.”

DPM Turnquest said he commended these agencies for the speed in which they have rolled-out these services. Under some very difficult circumstances, civil servants have been going the extra mile to ensure Bahamians have access to the support their government has promised.

He urged all individuals who are eligible for these benefits to apply for the assistance available to them through social services, NIB and the SBDC and to use the financial assistance wisely over this tough period.

The DPM stated: “As a reminder, these services are being delivered online, in keeping with the mandates of the Emergency Orders; so we encourage the public to please make inquiries and applications for each agency online.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced that there are three new cases of Covid-19 in The Bahamas and that he plans to extend a state of emergency for eight days. Read his full statement here.

Preliminary indications are that the domestic economy exhibited moderated, but slightly positive performance during February, according to the latest Monthly Economic and Financial Development report released by The Central Bank of The Bahamas. However, the regulator warns that travel restrictions related to Covid-19 began to take an accelerated toll in March.

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