Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
WHILE AGREEING with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's recent statements that economic growth was expected to come from small- and medium-size businesses, small-business leaders say greater support is still needed from the Government.
At the People's National Party's 75th annual conference on Sunday, the prime minister told delegates and party members that her Government was committed to creating jobs, which would come through small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
"It would have to come from the small-business sector, as this is the engine of growth. However, there is no mechanism in place to facilitate the growth and development of the small- and medium-enterprise sector here in Jamaica," Collette Campbell, president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica told The Gleaner on Monday.
"One of the main challenges that they (SMEs) complain about, is that the Government is not a purchaser of their goods and services. A lot of institutions are not purchasing locally made goods, so there is no way for them to earn an income through the system to be able to improve on their products and services. There is no market support," she added.
Financing, tax reform and the inadequate dissemination of information are the primary bones of contention for the sector. Many feel that although the Government is on target for recognising the sector's value to economic development at this time, the benefits which are to be derived from the current enabling environment are only marginal to the sector.
"The current tax system is not very friendly towards small businesses. There are certain provisions within the tax system to facilitate businesses, but large businesses are usually able to access these provisions, and small businesses usually don't know that they exist; and when they do know that they exist, they don't have the capacity to access them," said Campbell.
In agreeing with the viewpoint held by Campbell, president of the Medium Small and Micro Enterprises Alliance, Donovan Wignal, said although there are many innovative entrepreneurs in Jamaica, they fail to move forward with their visions as a result of inadequate governmental support.