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Samuda wants lower interest rates on MSME loans

Published:Monday | September 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda (centre) closely examines fibre-optic cable at CB Cabling Technologies’ display booth while Director of Technical Services Clarence Blake explains its use. Looking on is Yanique Forbes Patrick, vice-president for marketing, Scotiabank Jamaica. The occasion was the closing ceremony of the 2016 Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme, held at Scotiabank Corporate Learning Centre recently.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda is calling for banks to lower interest rates to single digit, in order to boost production and growth within the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector.

He cited agriculture as one sector which cannot grow with an interest rate that exceeds four per cent. Minister Samuda noted that 97 per cent of registered taxpayers are to be found within the MSME sector, "but the sector cannot hope to thrive at the pace necessary to get this economy rolling, unless we get to low single-digit interest charges".

He was addressing the closing ceremony of the 2016 Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme, held at the Scotiabank Corporate Learning Centre recently. Samuda said the area of greatest challenge for the small-business sector is the inability to provide the level of collateral needed to access loans.


"If you don't have it (collateral), your negotiating skills are diminished. With big collateral, you can bargain and get the best rates," Samuda noted. "I think for Jamaica to really go forward, the philosophy of banking has to be altered somewhat, whereby the focus is more on the viability of the project than on the level of collateral that is offered." Samuda also commended Scotiabank on its Vision Achiever Programme. Under the initiative, some 25 small and medium enterprise operators benefited from an intensive three-month coaching programme designed to achieve core competencies for running a successful business. They were trained in sales, systemising business process, marketing and understanding business financials. Dudley Walters, vice-president for small and medium enterprises at Scotiabank, congratulated the 2016 participants.

"I hope that you see this as a major step in your development ... and that you also recognise that as we live in this very challenging and changing environment ... you see self-development as a necessary tool to bring you closer to excellence," he said. The top three participants Pineapple Court Hotel, HBG Associates and Longville Park Pharmacy were presented with prizes valued at more than $1.4 million, including brand-development campaigns, special grant assistance, digital marketing products and business solution products.