PM announces $250 mil. financing plan for small businesses

PM announces $250 mil. financing plan for small businesses
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the government will provide $250 million in financing to small Bahamian businesses over the next five years.

The prime minister provided a snapshot of the Economic Recovery Committee’s summary report in the House of Assembly this morning.

The committee was charged to make policy recommendations for The Bahamas’ economic recovery in the short and medium-term amid the “worst economic downturn since the great depression”.

Addressing Parliament, the prime minister said this is a matter of economic survival and preparing for the future.

“This year alone, as a result of the pandemic we are providing $55 million to small businesses,” Minnis said.

“A broad sustained recovery requires Bahamians business people to have the funding required to create jobs.

“We need our Bahamian entrepreneurs to have money to create a new business or to expand existing businesses.

“With entrepreneurship comes risk. Not every idea we lend to will work, but some will and the successes of these Bahamian entrepreneurs will be our shared success.”

The economic recovery committee recommended the legalization, production, and exportation of marijuana under a strict regime, according to Minnis, who said, “our cannabis laws are outdated.”

He said as society changes, the laws must also change.

“We are reviewing the possible legalization of a hemp industry,” the prime minister.

“We will report back to the nation following [further] consultation.”

Minnis also spoke to the possibility of a sovereign wealth fund, new measures for foreign direct investment, expanding the digital economy, and facilitating a national digital marketplace in The Bahamas.

Cabinet is expected to deliberate on the committee’s recommendations in the days to come.

He said not all recommendations will be pursued.

For example, Minnis said the government rejected the committee’s recommendation to remove the $500 customs exemption for citizens.

He pledged the government will do everything in its power to restore jobs and the viability of the economy.

The summary will be made available at www.opm.gov.bs.

Minnis called on the public to make their views known.

He said he will provide another update in November.

The Bahamas was benefitting from record tourism ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought the global economy to a standstill.

Today, Minnis said: “We will recover to pre-COVID levels, however, we must have realistic expectations as to when this will happen.”

He indicated the pandemic will not go away any time soon.