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Chamber of Industry and Commerce: Loan Access Vital to Restart the Economy

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by Clive Bacchus

St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll on the local economy, the government injected a EC$120 million stimulus package from what it described as its “significant financial surplus”.

A year later, local businesses are still reeling from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and are now desperately in need of financing.

President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Giselle Matthews, on WINN’s Inside the News on the weekend.

“You need money, it’s the only thing that’s gonna get you to be reopened, to be ready for the season and for the destination to sell itself, that it is ready. And so how do they get the access? It’s very difficult, the commercial banks have been giving moratoriums for close to a year, many of the small businesses don’t have the necessary accounting practices may be in place that they can present all the documents that the banks require, I don’t know, I mean there are many stumbling blocks.

“And so, soft loans, a soft loan system, and I say a soft loan meaning very low interest rates because there’s no sense charging ridiculous interest rates that they can’t pay back anyway. So soft loans to help them as a crutch to get back up on their feet to walk again, and get ready for a new season. And that can come in the form of some sort of loan that will be repaid over a period of time but initially, probably needing at least 12 months to 15 months before the first payment. Because they need to be doing business, bringing in cash, generating revenue to be able to pay that loan back,” Matthews said.

More than 5000 people, from a population of 53,000 people, reportedly lost their jobs last year.

Tour operators, destination management companies and players in the cruise and yachting sectors remain hobbled as the months of economic inactivity rolled on in the tourism sector estimated to contribute 28 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Giselle Matthews speaking to Clive Bacchus on “Inside the News”.

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