Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 07, 2016 (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, announced on Wednesday’s WINN FM’s Voices programme that more funding is being sought to continue the Fresh Start initiative that provides loans for persons wishing to start or continue Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

He outlined that approximately $30 million is being sought that will again be distributed by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN.)

“We have determined that programme has to continue because there were a large number of requests for that support which had not been met,” Prime Minister Harris said.  “In other words demand for the Fresh Start initiative surpassed our wildest imagination and dreams.  And we are committed, and at this time, as we speak, we are mobilizing additional resource.  We are looking perhaps for another $30 million between now and next year to be injected into the Fresh Start programme.  And we are working on that, and before month-end I will be in a position to say how we’ll go about that $30 million.”

The local Development Bank had provided an initial amount of US$5 million, just over EC$13 million and the Venezuelan Government through the Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) St. Kitts-Nevis Limited, had supplied another US$1 million so that EC$16 million had been available to SMEs.

“Of course it will be (given to DBSKN) in a phased way,” Prime Minister Harris said, noting that the $30 million would not be provided all at once.  “Over the next months of this year, we will put a further 10 or 15 million and the further 15 (million) will come during the course of the next year.”

The Prime Minister revealed that once the details were worked out, more information would be given.

“So we are on track towards making an announcement,” he said.  “There are some “I”s to be dotted and some “T”s to be crossed, in a manner of speaking before I will be more explicit in terms of that particular initiative,” he said.  “But to give the assurance to the hairdressers, the barbers, the persons who want to engage in any type of business activity for which this initial support will be helpful – that the programme has not been discontinued, the programme has been oversubscribed and we are looking for additional resources to keep it going.”

General Manager of the DBSKN, Mr. Lenworth Harris, had informed at the signing ceremony on September 04, 2015, that the maximum loan per person would not be more than US$100,000 at an interest rate that should not exceed five percent and repayment would be based on the nature of the business that is being funded.  While repayment could start almost immediately, it is based on a reducing balance basis whether with monthly or weekly installments as appropriate.

Prime Minister Harris said that the Government started the Fresh Start programme because there was a concern that persons wishing to start or revive SMEs were not able to access necessary funding.

“We had over 200 successful applicants who have benefited,” he said.  Several of them you would have seen showcased in an exhibition which Development Bank held in the Independence Square,” he said.  “Some of them were hair dressers, some of them were joiners, some of them were people involved in craft, some of them were involved in agro-processing – so a full range.  One of the personalities who appeared on stage was a young practicing lawyer, so it put across a full range of services and product engagements. “