Prime Minister Browne reaffirms his government’s commitment to lend support to the manufacturing sector.
“While size and production costs prevent this sector from being a much more significant contributor to GDP, it is still an important component of the economy as it is a source of employment and income for our people,” PM Browne indicated.
The PM went on to explain that manufacturing contributes about 2.5 percent or $60 million to GDP annually.
“That is why, through various laws, including the Small Business Development Act, special incentives are provided, to encourage local manufacturers and other entrepreneurs to start and expand businesses,” The Prime Minister stated.
During his Budget 2021 presentation, the country’s leader announced some projects that were delayed due to the pandemic. However, implementation will be advanced in 2021. These projects include:
- the US$20 million Carib Beer plant
- a US$5 million brewery project at Antigua Distillery
“These will create construction and manufacturing jobs and increase the level of manufacturing exports,” PM Browne expounded.
As plans continue to advance the manufacturing sector, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his government’s commitment to lend progressive support to the private sector.
The Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) continues to provide low-cost funding and technical assistance to locally owned businesses.
PM Browne highlighted that since the start of the program in 2019, the government has provided more than $2 million in loans to local entrepreneurs. These loans come with highly favorable financing terms and a maximum interest rate of 3%.
In addition to favorable financing terms, the government continues to provide duty-free concessions for equipment and other supplies directly related to the start-up of these enterprises.
Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on employment, PM Browne said, “in response to the job losses caused by the pandemic, the EDP will ensure that micro-business loans can be made available to individuals directly affected by the pandemic to start their own businesses. These loans have been extended without the requirement for collateral.”
Browne also announced that the government is working with the Caricom Development Fund (CDF) to restructure and revitalize the Antigua Barbuda Development Bank so it, too, can play a leading role in providing credit to small businesses in Antigua and Barbuda.
This revamped and revitalized ABDB will also be an important source of credit for young entrepreneurs, who may otherwise have difficulty accessing financing from other sources.
“Ultimately, ABDB will be positioned to take advantage of the credit guarantee arrangement offered by the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation, thereby opening further financing options for local businesses. A number of our domestic banks have already signed up with this Corporation through which guarantees are provided to banks offering credit for business ventures that are viable, but the borrower has difficulty meeting the collateral requirements of the lender,” Browne said.
In addition, the Prime Minister also revealed that the government has agreed to guarantee up to $50 million, to provide for business expansion and cash flow support for enterprises affected by the pandemic.