Opposition MP urges Government to pass laws to protect small businesses

Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre, Dr David Lee, is urging Government to move quickly to pass legislation that could protect the hundreds of small businesses in this country, currently under siege from the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Opposition MP, if government fails to act in time, these businesses could be destroyed forever, and the thousands of workers they employ would be headed for serious poverty.

The Pointe-a-Pierre MP argues that legislation is the only way to reign in landlords and financial institutions determined to get their pound of flesh, regardless of the State’s moral suasion.

The full text of Dr David Lee’s statement, follows…

MP LEE—PASS LEGISLATION TO PREVENT THE DESTRUCTION OF SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES FROM UNREASONABLE LANDLORDS.

As the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector faces a nightmare as never seen before due to the prevailing crisis, the Government must move swiftly to bring legislation to our Parliament to not only save but prevent the destruction of hundreds of small businesses together with the thousands of jobs they provide.

If this government is truly serious about the survival of small and medium enterprises (SME), it must focus on giving legal protection to small businesses from the difficulties they face with loan repayments and rental payments caused by this economic downturn.

At present, hundreds of businesses face permanent closure as the government’s tactic of moral suasion to financial institutions and landlords as well as the other “economic cushions” to protect businesses during this COVID-19 crisis have failed.

It is troubling that six weeks after the Prime Minister promised that financial institutions would assist firms during this crisis, many business owners and chambers are publicly complaining that banks as well as insurance companies have offered no significant waivers while some landlords are still seeking rental payments despite the inability to operate.

The only solid solution to this dire situation is the passage of legislation which will provide a legal moratorium on loans for small businesses allowing their capitals to be protected to facilitate a successful restart to operations when the lockdown is over.

Further, the Government must consider legislation which will protect businesses that are renters by calling on Landlords to offer waivers and preventing them from seizing or levying on property due to the inability to pay rent in this period of crisis.

These measures are critical as they will not only give SMEs the breathing space they need “to get back on their feet” when the lockdown is over but it will work to protect jobs and the economic recovery of our nation.

David Lee
Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre