Young entrepreneurs and poultry farmers throughout the country will be the recipient of millions of dollars in loans and grants from the five-month old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to improve the quantity and quality of local poultry and to develop small businesses.
Government has established a Small Business Development Fund at the state-controlled Grenada Development Bank (GDB) through which $3 million has been earmarked to assist existing and developing young entrepreneurs.
Minister for Economic Development, Trade, Planning and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph, disclosed during Government’s post-Cabinet press briefing last week Tuesday that the fund was established in keeping with his government’s promise as outlined in the 2013 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure (Holding Budget) earlier this year.
Joseph said that the maximum a small businessperson will be allowed to borrow from the fund is $50,000.00.
Loans will be granted to successful applicants at a rate of 6% interest with a maximum period of 10 years to repay.
Under the arrangement, the monies are expected to be accessible to successful applicants within two weeks.
Minister for Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities and ICT, Gregory Bowen, gave details about government’s assistance to poultry farmers.
Bowen said that in excess of $300,000.00 has been set-aside at GDB for quite sometime now specifically for the poultry association.
He hinted that no one was able to access the funds because no acceptable proposal was put forward by persons involved in the industry to obtain funding for their projects.
Bowen said that Cabinet made a decision that of the $300,000.00 sum available, a grant of $40,000 would be given to the association grouping poultry producers to be used mainly to enhance outreach programmes and to strengthen administrative capacity.
He added that another portion of the grant funds would be used to consolidate the association’s membership status within the Caribbean Poultry Association, as dues and other administrative undertakings have not been paid to ensure that Grenada becomes part and parcel of this network, which is of extreme importance to ensure that all standards within the poultry industry are met.
The senior government minister disclosed that another $40,000 would be given in the form of a grant to the Grenada Bureau of Standards to implement the new CARICOM standards for poultry products.
Government said its intention is to establish a revolving fund of $100,000.00 at GDB to be used to secure feeds for poultry farmers.
A further sum of $150,987.12 has also been assigned to the small business loan fund through GDB to be used specifically for poultry farmers.
He said that disbursements would be made in allocations after presentation of satisfactory reports on the use of the funds by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Under the arrangement, annual audits of the funds will be conducted by the Audit Department under the auspices of the Director of Audit.
Minister Bowen also announced that government will be moving ahead with plans for the commercialisation of the three state-owned estates in the country – Diamond, Mt Reuil and Grand Bras.
He said that a committee headed by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Senator Simon Stiell has been established to undertake the commercialisation process.
Other members of the committee are Fitzroy James representing the Ministry of Finance, Ken Francois and Ronald O’Neal of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a representative each from the Grenada Trade Union movement and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Bowen said that the committee would have the authority to negotiate and enter into contractual arrangements with selected persons to manage these estates to ensure that the farms are efficiently run, leading to increased and improved production.