The government has increased the allocation to the Small Business Development Fund (SBDF) to $300 million. A total of 746 small businesses benefited from the programme in 2021.
Speaking as part of the 2022 budget debates on Monday, the Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond touted the fund as an example of her government delivering on promises to support small businesses through access to various resources.
She stressed that the $200 million allocated to the SBDF in 2021 did not only benefit start-ups but allowed existing businesses to continue operations in the face of COVID19.
“Many [were able to] upscale and expand many times over…such was the unprecedented success of the SBDF that the envelope will be increased by 50% to $300 million in 2022,” the Minister told the National Assembly.
According to Walrond, the fund has also allowed her ministry to offer specialized training to persons living with disabilities so that they could enter the workforce. This initiative was, she explained, a direct response to a request from an organization working with these individuals.
“Through our budget measures past and present this government has a record of compassion…and integrity…not only do we promise but we deliver,” the Minister repeatedly stressed adding that her ministry’s support to businesses extend beyond financing as the government understands that training and capacity building is needed as is access to new markets locally and internationally.
She went on to remind that as part of efforts to create new local markets, the government has instituted a 5% margin of preference for small businesses in public procurement and removed the requirement of bid security for contracts under $7 million.
The latter measure means that small businesses which have the skill and experience to execute contracts will not be excluded due to an inability to provide collateral for a bank or insurance guarantee.
Key to accessing international markets will be the efforts of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) which must ensure improvements in products produced.
Walrond announced that a National Standards Strategy will soon be drafted via broad consultation. This strategy will focus on the construction, tourism, and agriculture sub-sectors.
The GNBS is already primed to take responsibility for the testing of crude oil brought to the surface by the various FPSOs.
Having signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Petroleum Institute and trained several inspectors, the bureau is expected to take control of this critical aspect of operational audit and quality assurance, Waldron concluded.