The New Today


A small business stimulus package is needed

The current economic situation confronting small and medium-sized businesses in Grenada remains a delicate one. The lingering impact of COVID-19 has since significantly reduced the purchasing power of consumers, and a comprehensive response both from the private and public sector is required to foster genuine recovery.

Our macro-level policies must therefore address concerns negatively affecting small businesses in particular, at this time. Business survival and expansion post the pandemic are critical areas globally observed as some immediate answers when providing direct financial assistance to the small business community. The question will be how?

Considering that the focus of our previous stimulus package was on a micro level, and the distribution was limited mainly to the tourism sector, the impact of another relief package must extensively address macroeconomic concerns.

Accessing scarce capital resources to invest in the productive capacity of Grenada’s economy must be addressed, and the financial institutions will play a key role in determining whether such a possibility exist. For example, how can our local farming community maximise its potential to fill the gap in export and production following the eruptions of La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

The production and operation costs of businesses should be an additional area of focus since it carries a significant portion of the burden small companies now face along with the pandemic. Therefore, the need to review business taxes, port charges and reduce where possible can make a tremendous difference between businesses closing their doors or staying open and keeping staff or cutting. This type of policy can aid in addressing the question of affordability of goods and services for consumers encouraging more business activity.

Immediately addressing the unpaid 4% increase to the civil servants must be part of a second package which can give an automatic financial injection to increase the spending power. If left unsolved, the deteriorating industrial climate can become a threat to small businesses. Returning it to normal can provide stability for the business community and the state in making the necessary decisions to create the enabling environment for growth.

The roll-out of a vaccination program that is non-political or does not discourage widespread participation must be another area to include, and administering it in a sector-based manner should be considered.

While there remain many other unspoken concerns for the private sector, the fundamental question facing us now would be how do we make necessary enhancements to the existing economic structure to lead a genuine recovery?

Ron Redhead is a former senator in parliament and current executive member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)