Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 28, 2017 (SKNIS):  Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris during the National Assembly on Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, wished safe passage to the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee (Corporation) Agreement Bill 2017 in an effort to foster sustainability for small and medium size businesses in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Most of our region’s small businesses traditionally have to resort to financing from grass roots,” said Dr. Harris, Minister of Finance, as he highlighted that many small business owners resort to borrowing from financial institutions such as credit unions and development banks. He said that there is much difficulty for small businesses to gain access to financing, especially for start-ups and expansion.

“It was this reality that has been documented in several presentations and studies that led this government very early to begin what we dubbed as the “Fresh Start” Programme,” said Prime Minister Harris, while adding that the “Fresh Start” programme has brought “affordable financing to hundreds of small and medium size entities throughout St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Prime Minister Harris also emphasized that the Government has set aside over 30 million dollars funnelled through the Development Bank of St. Kitts for the Fresh Start Programme.

He commended the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) for its support to the Bill. “I want to commend the Central Bank for coming up with this instrument that will allow us within the Currency Union to be able to offer some modicum of support to the vulnerable small businesses in the region to the partial credit guarantee scheme,” he stated.

“We are confident that the passing of the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee (Corporation) Agreement Bill 2017, will facilitate the growth and sustainability of the small and medium size enterprises in the Federation and indeed across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU),” Dr.  Harris said, after he addressed the particulars of the Bill to the National Assembly.

“Our actions here today are evident of my Government’s commitment to help to create economic opportunities for all of our citizens and residents, especially those individuals who wish to operate a micro, a small or medium enterprise, as we strive to achieve inclusive growth for all in our Federation,” he said.

“This Bill is non-controversial; this Bill is about the small man; this Bill is about bringing help through the mobilization of financial support for a sub-sector of our economy,” Prime Minister Harris said.