The Minnis administration has increased its allocation for small business growth and development from $5 million last year to $55 million in the 2020/2021 budget.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said this focused and targeted approach to the budget is intended to further strengthen the domestic economy and plant seeds for greater participation in the eventual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are pleased to see that the entrepreneurial spirit of Bahamians has been awoken, because now, people have confidence in the programs available to support their ambitions. This is largely thanks to the work of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and its partners. The SBDC will continue to innovate, by exploring ways to leverage the government’s investment to make other forms of capital available to Bahamians, such as private equity through angel investing and crowdfunding,” Turnquest said while presenting the 2020/2021 budget communication in the House of Assembly yesterday.
In the 2018/2019 budget exercise, the Minnis administration allocated the first $5 million of $25 million over the course of its five-year term to support local businesses.
Turnquest said the government set an objective three years ago to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, which he said has resulted in a stronger environment for entrepreneurship than ever before.
“Micro, small and medium-sized businesses (or MSMEs) make the economy more resilient, as they stay ready, nimble and poised to adapt even more so than large companies. When the economy needed delivery services, MSMEs sprung into action. The economy needed quick access to online markets and MSMEs provided online solutions for other MSMEs,” he said.
“Rental car companies pivoted by using their vehicles for deliveries. Tailors and seamstresses pivoted to making masks. They turned a by-product, scrap fabric, into a new source of revenue. In this time of crisis, the determination, foresight and agility that characterizes MSMEs has proven beneficial for all Bahamians.”
Local small businesses have been under increased pressure to survive given the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, the government has also allocated in the next fiscal year $30 million to expand the Business Continuity Loan Program for Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses; and is also seeking to defer up to $120 million in tax collections to extend and expand the tax deferral program.
“As with the business continuity program, this tax credit and deferral program is provided on the condition that businesses use the proceeds primarily to meet payroll needs and to keep people employed,” Turnquest said.