BUSINESS MONDAY: Policies expected to protect householders, businesses

JOBS, investment and businesses have to survive in the prevailing economic climate.

So said Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley on Friday night. She made the comments while announcing policies to protect householders and businesses in the likelihood of the setbacks which Barbados may experience as a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.

Speaking in Parliament during the second reading of the Appropriations Bill, Ms. Mottley said that this is necessary because once the COVID-19 pandemic goes, it is going to take that much longer for companies to recover from scratch.

Mottley told the House of Assembly that after two weeks of discussions with commercial banks through the Barbados Bankers’ Association, there will be a six-month moratorium on all existing loans and mortgages for persons and businesses directly affected by the virus.

The Prime Minister said that persons must go to their banks and work out those arrangements.

“That six-month payment moratorium makes the difference to being able to have the space to do some of the things, because you are no longer forced to make that debt payment,” she pointed out.

Mottley remarked that similarly, the Government recognised that people are concerned about their houses.

As such, the moratorium for those who might lose their jobs or their businesses is critical since Barbadians are now struggling to purchase food and to do everything else.

“You cannot be worrying at this time with this devastation,” according to her.

She also issued a call to landlords to desist from evicting tenants, while reminding them this is a request.

Ms. Mottley indicated that the commercial banks have agreed to temporary working capital financing options for corporate and small businesses also affected by the virus. Stating that it is well known that cash is king, the Prime Minister revealed that it is important for those businesses to have access to working capital.

“In addition to that, my Government will also recapitalize the Small Hotel Investment Fund with $20 million in order to allow small hotels to borrow and to blend with other commercial funds,” she said.

This, the Prime Minister stated, will allow small “hotels to refurbish their properties during this down period, such that when they come back, they are bigger and better and more attractive as they go into the marketplace”.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the $20 million is not a large sum, but it will be blended with other funds available from the banks. The current five per cent interest rates applicable to the Small Hotel Investment Fund will be lowered to 3.5 per cent, she promised.

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