Finance Minister Colm Imbert

More help is coming for small businesses during this financially difficult time, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has announced.

Imbert made the statement yesterday during a virtual press conference held by the Finance Ministry.

Small businesses will soon be offered an interest-free loan that they will not have to make a payment on for two years, Imbert said.

“We are finalising the loan programme this week where the First Citizens will be issuing soft loans to small businesses, small and medium enterprises, over a four-year period with a two-year moratorium on payments and the Government will be covering all of the interest,” Imbert said.

“So that the small business will be able to access these loans which are really to help them out with their operational expenses during this very difficult period, without having to make a single payment for the first two years so that the government will pay the interest throughout the four year period, the business will not have to make any payments on the principal during the first two years and they start to pay in year three and complete in year four,” he said.

Imbert said the loan will be approved this week for “immediate implementation.”

“We are hoping the other banks will fall in we are staring with FCB one of the government-owned banks we are hoping the other banks will fall in quickly,” Imbert said.

Imbert said the loans will help give businesses time to recover from the financial strains they are currently facing.

He said a loan facility for credit unions specifically designed for small businesses has also been organised.

The state has provided the credit unions with $100 million to facilitate this.

In addition to this Imbert said the Board of Inland Revenue has so far paid $449,335,000 in value added tax bonds.

He denied allegations that the government was withholding these payments for money owed.

“I just want to make it crystal clear that nobody’s VAT bonds are being withheld because they may owe small amounts of tax. That’s a misunderstanding that was put in the system by a private accounting firm,” Imbert said.

Imbert’s statement came in response to a letter to the editor from Wilfred Espinet which was published yesterday.

Imbert said the situation occurred because a local accounting firm omitted an important detail from a release issued by the Finance Ministry.

He said the omitted line stated, “any liabilities that remain outstanding would be deducted from the amount due before bonds are issued.”

He called the situation “very regrettable and unfortunate.”