Sun | Aug 20, 2017

On the Corner | Advice for Andrew! - Longville Park residents say give small businesses a break and watch the economy grow

Published:Sunday | June 25, 2017 | 6:43 AMErica Virtue
Co-chairman of EPOC, Keith Duncan (left), listens carefully as Andella Carnagie makes a point to during the latest in The Gleaner's On the Corner with EPOC series at the Unity Sports Bar in Longville Park, Clarendon, last Wednesday.
Keith Duncan, co-chairman of EPOC, speaking with residents of Longville Park, Clarendon during The Gleaner's 'On the Corner with EPOC' at the Unity Sports last Wednesday.
Hylton-Coleman
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Residents of the Longville Park, Clarendon have several messages they want to send to the Andrew Holness-led administration, among them is the need to provide small businesses with incentives to strive.

Speaking out at a forum with co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) last Wednesday, the residents were adamant that the economic growth Jamaica seeks under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement is achievable, but small business operators must be given greater incentives to operate.
 

Some of the residents, who are small business operators, cite red tape, expensive loans, the many requirements for official documents and the need to secure permission from several different agencies among their main sources of frustration.

“The whole process is too problematic. There are just too many obstacles and sometimes it was easier for persons to just throw up their hands and just don’t bother.

“How is EPOC going to help to make it easier for small business operators to operate so that the economy can get going? If small business people get going this whole country get moving. But with the problems and obstacles it was sometimes easier for persons to throw their hands in the air and give up,” said Elizabeth Francis, who operates a small dressmaking business.
 

She was supported by several other residents who had journeyed to the Unity Sports bar for the latest in the Gleaner’s ‘On the Corner’ series with EPOC.

Francis argued that it was not easy to do business in Jamaica for either the large or small operators even as Duncan noted that EPOC’s role of monitoring the Government’s fiscal activities under the IMF agreement was a key part of achieving the economic growth the country needs.

According to Francis, the cost to borrow money was too high and the process too frustrating.
 

Duncan admitted that it was not easy to do business in Jamaica but pointed out that the country now rank s number 97 in the world coming down from 140 of countries with on the Ease of Doing Business Index.
 

The EPOC co-chair underscored that many small business operators did not have business plans and many were not “financially literate”.

He noted that the absence of business plans made it difficult to access loans but it was generally accepted that it was very expensive to borrow money to start-up businesses.
 

Francis later complained to our news team that it is also difficult to find employees who were not demanding high salaries.

She said she also finding it difficult to find suitably qualified persons for her small dressmaking business.
 

“I have called HEART (Trust/NTA) twice and was unable to get someone who has some basic training and who could do the job. That, plus the overhead costs, like electricity, and raw materials will just kill you.

“Why can’t I have the same kind of benefits that the government is giving to the Chinese,” argued Francis.
 

She pointed to the growth of small businesses in an around the area of Nain in St Elizabeth with the reopening of Alpart under new management and argued that those are small opportunities which would help to grow the economy.
 

Nancy Hylton-Coleman, another small business operator said her operation,, in collaboration with HEART Trust/NTA will today graduate individuals trained in housekeeping and as bakery chefs.

But Hylton-Coleman lamented the lack of job opportunities for the individuals who are trained.

 “Where can we find places to channel these persons? They are HEART certified. Where do we find jobs for them and how do we encourage new persons when were are unable to find jobs.

“It has a direct effect on my business because other persons may now decide that they do not want to be trained. My business then gets closed. Another small business operator goes out of business,” said Hylton-Coleman.