To date 616 businesses have requested a total of $14.88 million from the government’s Business Continuity Program for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed today.
These businesses represent 1,082 full-time employees and 243 part-time employees, the deputy prime minister noted.
“The $20 million allocated by the government for MSMEs will ensure that all businesses who qualify have the support they need to protect their livelihoods and the families represented by their workforce,” he said in the House of Assembly.
“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.
“I want to commend 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. And I want to salute all the staff working in these agencies who make these facilities available to the public.”
Turnquest noted however that only 382 businesses that applied have completed the application process.
Eligible businesses must provide proof that they have been operating with a valid business license for one year or more; must agree to retain 51 percent of their staff, and must agree to have credit information shared with the Credit Bureau and other banking and financial institutions in the future.
The government earmarked $20 million for MSMEs with an annual revenue of $3 million or less and at least 50 employees to provide loans, ranging from $5,000 to $300,000, at an interest rate of five percent to cover operating costs such as paying salaries, rent, insurance, utilities and inventory/supplies.
Approved loans will have a payment grace period of four months and businesses have five years to repay the loan at the end of that four-month grace period.