A lack of funds from government to the state-owned Grenada Development Bank (GDB) is affecting the operations of the small business development project.
In addressing reporters at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola said that the full implementation of the programme is being badly affected by a cash shortage affecting the one-year old ruling New National Party (NNP) government.
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr Keith Mitchell announced when he presented the 2014 budget in December that Government has decided to allocate $1 million to a fund within GDB to facilitate small business developers.
According to Bhola, Cabinet received a report from the GDB regarding small business loans from the start of the Programme in September 2013 to February, and it shows that 26 approved applicants are yet to be furnished with their money.
He disclosed that 432 applications were received under the programme, 104 were approved, and 78 fell into the category of disbursed and 26 regarded as pending.
Of the 78 loans disbursed, 4 were deemed delinquent with one foreclosure already taking place.
Bhola reminded the media that government “is definitely cash strapped” but a promise was made to the small business people and efforts were being made to provide the necessary funding to the bank for disbursement to successful applicants.
The senior government minister is confident that a tranche of funds received by GDB will soon enable other approved loans to get some disbursements.
Bhola said government is awaiting $7-$8 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (GDB) to reach the GDB coffers by the middle of the year and this will enhance the bank to pour more resources into the small business programme.
During the Budget presentation, Government pointed out that it had signed an agreement with the CARICOM Development Fund to inject a further $8 million in business development through GDB.
Bhola told the local media that the Keith Mitchell-led administration had indicated that as soon as funds are received from donor agencies under the homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), a significant amount would be put into the small business programme fund.
He lamented the fact that government cannot and is not in a position to provide employment for every citizen and is committed to providing the avenue for persons who have the means to become self employed to have easier means to do so.
The senior government minister urged recipients of the funds to be responsible and repay loans granted or face foreclosure.
Government has said that its objective with the small business programme fund is to help people pursue their dreams, unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and secure their livelihoods.
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