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Reforms coming for MSME sector

Major changes are on the cards for vending and other areas of the micro, small, mediumsized enterprises (MSME) sector in Barbados, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Esworth Reid has announced.

He made the revelation on Wednesday as he addressed a ceremony to launch a COVID- 19 impact survey on the services industry in Barbados.

Stating that the planned changes would include “a suite of comprehensive legislative reforms”, Reid said there would also be programmes designed to address a range of challenges relating to marketing, knowledge attainment, the high cost of sourcing inputs and accessing finance.

“I am also pleased to inform you that the ministry has developed a draft business cluster strategy for MSMEs, which will allow them to business network, collaborate and communicate inherent strategies associated with stand-alone small businesses that can result in business failure,” he said.

In relation to vending, Reid said a Vending and Market Facilitation Act would be introduced to help make that sector more formal.

“[The] Vending and Market Facilitation Act, among other things, would decriminalise and reposition vending and allow creatives to trade freely and without hassle, both within the physical and virtual marketplace,” he said.

“Before the end of the year, the ministry will also be taking before Parliament, a national MSME Act that is intended to create the legislative space to facilitate expanding growth within the MSME sector,” Reid added.

Additionally, he said, the much talked about Financial Literacy Bureau is to be established, initially within a virtual environment by mid-August of this year, “with the intention to create physical financial literacy satellite clinics by the end of the year”.

“The Financial Literacy Bureau is intended to improve the general livelihood of our nation’s youth, households and general business sector through training, thereby promoting a culture of financial literacy and wealth creation in Barbados,” Reid explained.

He also disclosed that the introduction of a junior market on the Barbados Stock Exchange (BSE) was closer to reality.

“My ministry is also partnering with its strategic partners to develop a junior stock exchange for MSMEs as well as a collateral registry, which are both at an advanced stage and will serve to ease access to finance that has been the nemesis to small businesses over the years,” said Reid.