KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday September 2, 2016 – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda has called on commercial banks to lower interest rates on loans to single digit, 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 currently exceeds four per cent.
Minister Samuda noted that 97 per cent of registered taxpayers are 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 made the comments at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme on Wednesday.
Minister Samuda said the 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. 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,” he contended.
Meanwhile, Samuda commended Scotiabank on its Vision Achiever Programme. Under that initiative, 25 small and medium enterprise operators benefited from an intensive three-month coaching programme designed to achieve core competencies for running a successful business.