Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle.

INVESTMENT PUSH

With $9 billion in domestic savings earning little interest, Government is seeking to see how best those savings can be mobilised to spur on domestic investment and grow business in this country.

That’s according to Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle. While delivering the keynote address at the Business Forum hosted by the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries, dubbed ‘Services Unplugged: Advancing a World Class Economy’ at the Savannah Hotel yesterday morning, she said Government is pursuing a number of initiatives to mobilise those savings and support the spread of ownership of assets to ordinary Barbadians, in a programme of economic enfranchisement.

“The Government will facilitate the creation of a National Unit Trust, modelled on the unit trust that some of you may be aware of in Trinidad and Tobago, with professional investors investing in primarily local projects. Individuals and the credit unions are likely to be a significant investor in these unit trusts,” she said.

With that in mind, she said regulatory regimes to develop new types of investment funds, focused on small investors, will also be created. This, she said, includes digital platforms for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. Through the former, she said small investors will invest equity in new projects, while in the latter small investors will lend collectively to borrowers.

“Unlike in the past when only banks were presented with investment opportunities and the people were asked to provide funding at 0.1 percent return, we will ensure that all Barbadians can participate as investors if they choose,” she said.

Caddle noted too that Government will support the development of a regulatory regime for green energy bonds, a new type of financial instrument which will allow those who cannot use renewable energy technologies themselves, to get renewable energy credits for investing in renewable energy projects. The Minister said they also want to encourage the development of innovative financial instruments linked to renewable energy by other entities, as she maintained that Barbados can become a global hub for solar power financial instruments.

Through another initiative, Minister Caddle said, the Financial Service Commission will in conjunction with the Barbados Stock Exchange, work to create an innovation and growth market for small or start-up companies with a capitalisation of greater than $200,000. She said in these cases, at least 30 percent of ownership will be available to investors. She insists that this is a “critical platform” that will enable local entrepreneurs to also tap into the $9 billion in savings, which are dormant in the banking system.

“The Government will [also] develop a programme for using the local stock market to spread ownership of Government assets through the sale of stakes in its businesses like the Hilton and Sam Lord’s to ordinary citizens,” she added. (JRT)

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