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Turnquest: Govt still working on introducing SME Act

Government is continuing to work on bringing the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Act to Parliament in its term, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Guardian Business.

Despite the government’s intention to introduce the new legislation to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Turnquest said new legislation to be introduced remains stacked up, and the passing of the SME Act is not yet on the radar.

The Free National Movement (FNM) campaigned strongly on strengthening small business in the country, saying in its manifesto: “The Free National Movement recognizes that the stability of any economy depends on the strength of its middle class and small and medium-sized businesses. As a result, in its next administration, the FNM will focus on empowering a new class of entrepreneurs, utilizing the buying strength of government and government’s influence in the private sector.”

Despite government not being able to bring the SME Act to the table yet, it has begun work on some of the things it wants to put in place for SMEs, including easing the business licensing process, the formation of a small business resource center and strengthening the access to capital for small startup companies.

For years, business consultant Mark Turnquest has been calling for the act to come to force. Last year he beseeched the government to push the legislation through Parliament in the first 100 days.

Turnquest, in a press release sent to the media last year, said that after reviewing the manifestos of all major political parties, “It is expressed and implied that the Bahamas SME Act will be legislated within five years by the new government.

“The entire country is suffering because of it not being enacted,” said Turnquest.

“This is evident because we have a high national debt and deficit and a low economic growth forecast.

“In addition, there are so many economic downgrades by international financial watchdogs.”

He added that, in 2009, the business community waited for an SME act to be legislated and an SME development agency to be put together. However, he lamented that, 10 years later, “such important legislation was not enacted

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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