PM Opens Local Business Forum

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (file photo).

The Antigua and Barbuda government Tuesday said it was laying the groundwork for improving the economic climate here as it warned that the island needed to create many more local entrepreneurs to deal with the employment situation here.

“We continue to educate our youth and they return to this country. We need to provide opportunities for employment,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said at the first in a series of planned interactions between the government and the private sector.

He told the forum, which is being held under the theme “Strengthening Local Businesses for Long Term Sustainability,” there was need for nationals to be able to manage businesses in the country.

“That is why we are now seeking to broaden the business infrastructure to create more opportunities so that we are not fazed with a major problem of graduates who are unemployed.

“That’s the problem in some countries and we know we have to go the extra mile in creating the opportunities to make sure that they are productively engaged upon their return,” Browne told the forum.

The forum will initiate a structured dialogue from which a greater common understanding, and recommendations for improving the business environment in Antigua and Barbuda, will emerge and Browne said that his administration is seeking to equip the next generation of business leaders with the skills to grow and sustain their enterprises.

“We still have a number of businesses, most of them are run informally and our people need to recognise that operating a business is a science”.

He told the forum that unlike previous years when a bank provided loans to start ups without much needed information, nowadays “to get a loan you need a plan.

“Gone are the days when you walk into a bank and you ask the general manager for a bligh to get a loan to start a business, those days are gone. You are operating in a more competitive space and our entrepreneurs must develop the skills and the discipline to operate successful businesses,” he added.

The government said that the information garnered from these engagements will be used to develop a strategic roadmap that both the public and private sector may use to monitor the progress in implementing mutually-agreed recommendations.

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