Posted: Monday, December 31, 2018. 1:29 pm CST.
Posted: Monday, December 31,2018. 1:20 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: Prime Minister Dean Barrow has announced a $10 million micro-credit program to benefit entrepreneurs and farmers in Belize.
In his New Year’s message, Barrow said that critics of his government say that people cannot live by infrastructure alone and they want investment in people so his government is allocating $10 million dollars micro-credit program through the National Bank of Belize (NBB) to assist owners of small businesses in the country.
“Now I don’t quite understand how building out the country’s critical infrastructure is not an investment in people. But there are many arrows in Government’s quiver. That is why we will be able to do that proudly by announcing a 10 million micro-credit facility through the National Bank” Barrow explained.
According to PM Barrow all micro-enterprises will qualify, including small farmers growing corn and root crops as well those raising a few pigs and cows. Urban and rural arts and crafts makers and small cruise tourism tour operators will also be able to receive funding under this new scheme.
The Prime Minister is hoping that this new funding will help to launch and keep afloat many startup and fledgling enterprises. The importance of this investment, said Barrow, is underscored by the statistical claim that 60% of all new jobs in the Western world are being created by SMEs.
Since its inception, the National Bank has focused on housing loans mostly to public officers and teachers. Public officers and teachers were considered fairly safe clients as their salaries are mostly paid by government and salary deductions help to secure the monthly loan payments to the bank.
The launch of this new facility by PM Barrow marks new terrain and opens up a new chapter for the National Bank. A similar program was launched by former PM Musa in December 1998 under the now defunct Small Farmers and Business Bank (SFBB). Ironically, the failed Small Farmers and Business Bank was eventually closed down by the Barrow government and $4.5 million in principal and $2.4 million in interest was forgiven for an estimated 700 persons. The National Bank is located at the exact location where Musa’s Small Farmers and Business Bank was located.
This new micro-credit program is expected to benefit small farmers and entrepreneurs in Belize. With prudence and objective assessment of projects, it is the government’s hope that this program will be successful in creating jobs and contributing to a buoyant economy.
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