Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says more creative ways are being explored to provide additional funding sources for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Among them, Mr. Shaw said, are the uncollected funds totalling billions, which “are holed up in dormant bank accounts for 15 years before being transferred to the Government’s Consolidated Fund”.
“I am actively looking at this… the majority of countries around the world (have the funds) being claimed back by the Government after seven years, not 15. In fact, in the US it is five years, not seven. We’ve got to find a way to circle some of that money and get it into a special fund for small businesses in Jamaica,” he said.
The Minister was speaking to small business owners during the press launch of National Baking Company’s Bold Ones of Manufacturing initiative for Expo Jamaica 2018, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on April 10.
He urged SMEs to become formalised in order to benefit from certain resources such as the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) and the impending micro stock market, which has capitalisation of between $5 million and $50 million.
“Embrace the opportunities for formality; the global economy demands it,” he told them.
Launched in 2010, the Bold Ones of Manufacturing initiative is intended to give small manufacturing businesses mentorship and publicity and is aimed at supporting the local manufacturing industry.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Baking Company, Gary Hendrickson, said that this year’s Expo Jamaica, to be held at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston from April 19 to 22, will be different.
Rather than showcasing new companies, the event will provide a platform for Bold Ones alum.
In addition, the older companies will be given an opportunity to mentor and share experiences with persons seeking to venture into the manufacturing industry.
Mr. Hendrickson also provided updates on initiatives coming out of his company, including the use of biodegradable polyurethane bags for its products as well as the Taste of Jamaica website to highlight authentic Jamaican products.
Mr. Hendrickson gave a commitment to working with Mr. Shaw to help in growing Jamaica’s export market.
For his part, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, endorsed the Bold Ones initiative, noting that “this is the type of creativity we need”.
“This is the type of self-starting and giving a friend a push we need. This is the type of nationalistic spirit we need, because the Government cannot do it alone,” he said.
Mr. Mitchell recommended the establishment of a help desk in the Ministry to provide certain critical information to small business owners.
He also endorsed the releasing of idle lands to be placed into production, which was announced by the Minister recently.