THIS country must do more for small businesses if that sector is to be the engine of growth in the economy.

So says Senator John Watson, the recipient of a Silver Crown of Merit in this year’s Independence Awards, who vowed that he will continue to be a voice for the sector.

He spoke to The Barbados Advocate yesterday about his latest accolade, the present state of small businesses in Barbados, and where he would like to see the sector going.

In the interview Senator Watson said that it was a shock to him when he was informed that he was being honoured.

The businessman indicated that while the award is for his contribution to the small business sector, it is a recognition that the sector in Barbados has benefited the economy.

“So while I have received the award, it is a recognition of the small businesses on the island,” he said.

“People have told me that I have done something for the sector and that I have been faithful to the Small Business Association. When I was appointed to the Senate my attention to small business might have caused that,” he remarked.

However, in promising to continue his push for the sector, Senator Watson is convinced that more needs to be done. He insisted that what the sector requires is market share, while noting that some had closed or had reduced their size.

He recalls that while the United States (under former President Barack Obama) and other countries had stimulated their small business sector, this is not the case in Barbados.

“Although we talked about it, we have not been doing it,” he declared.

“The important thing for small businesses is sales. So if you open up an opportunity for sales you are doing more for these businesses than if you are opening loan [facilities] for them,” he reasoned.

Senator Watson argued that there has to be an acceptance that the small business sector can contribute more to our economy.

He pointed out that currently the sector provides employment for several Barbadians, it contributes to economic growth, and to economic activity.

To emphasise this point, the Senator referred The Barbados Advocate to a study done on behalf of the Small Business Association (SBA) which details the areas where those contributions are taking place. “I advise you to get hold of a copy,” he recommended.

According to him, “There seemed to be some reluctance to take decisive action for the sector, especially where that 40 per cent procurement was promised by David Thompson, former Prime Minister.”

Furthermore, the Businessman lamented, Pelican Village where a number of small entrepreneurs are located, gets no attention.

The Senator recalled also that there was a time when the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) had craft outlets at both the Grantley Adams International Airport and at Harrison’s Cave. "They are no longer there," he said.

Senator Watson acknowledged that Minister Donville Inniss had said it would be done and that the SBA would be represented on Boards under his watch. “We will have
to wait and see,” he added. (JB)

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