STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DURING THE NINTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Thursday, June 11, 2020
UNDP joins with Government of the Virgin Islands’ in economic response to Support Small And Medium-Size Enterprises
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Virgin Islands is partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist Micro Small and Medium size Enterprises in the food services sector including restaurants, cafes and food vans.
The United Nations Development Programme’s financial assistance of $40,000 will provide direct assistance to 10 food service businesses in the Territory.
As a Government, we welcome the continued support from its regional partner the United Nations Development Programme and their unwavering financial and technical support to the recovery and development of the Virgin Islands is invaluable.
The United Nations is very nimble in responding to the crises throughout the region and in our small islands this sort of assistance goes a long way to helping our vibrant small business sector and ultimately the People of Virgin Islands.
I look forward to the successful joint implementation of the programme.
Mr. Speaker, the primary objective of the programme is to assist businesses in navigating the negative consequences of COVID-19 by providing them with the resources to incorporate digital services in their business model, improve financial management practices and provide additional cash flow to support operational expenditure.
It complements the national grant programme valued at $6.5 million that has been launched to provide direct assistance to small businesses in the Territory.
Micro Small and Medium size Enterprises Grant Programme is part of the UNDP’s regional Economic Recovery Programme for COVID-19.
The organisation’s Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Mr. Magdy Martinez-Soliman stated that the UNDP will support the Territory’s Small and Medium size Enterprises so that they resume their business and service their customers.
Mr. Speaker, part of the assistance he said will be for small business to go digital – the way of the future and congratulated the Government on their response and handling thus far of the crisis.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Martinez-Soliman said, and I quote “The COVID-19 response in the BVI has been a resounding success. The citizenry, the Government, civil society organisations and the private sector have worked together to protect lives and livelihoods. Now is the time to reactivate the economy,” end of quote.
The premature closure of the tourism industry sector and the curfew of the internal economy has had a significant impact on the revenue stream and viability of these businesses.
A recent COVID-19 Impact Business Survey conducted by the Government of the Virgin Islands in April 2020 revealed approximately, 72 percent of food service businesses in the survey experienced between 61 percent – 100 percent reduction in business activity.
Mr. Speaker, this grant programme will be administered through the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Premier’s Office and the Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs.
The team is working with the UNDP developing and finalising the framework for how the programme will operate.
Applications will be available on bvi.gov.vg on June 22 and in the coming days more information will be provided on the programme’s offerings.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to supporting the resurgence of the small business sector in the BVI as part of its Economic Response Plan to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thank you Mr. Speaker