Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland has issued a warning to small business owners who have received government’s trust loans, but have no intention of repaying, that government will find them.
During his visit to some beneficiaries of the loan today, Sutherland revealed that he was already recognizing a trend where some recipients have shown an unwillingness to repay the up to $5000 loans and who, since receiving the loan could not be found. The loan scheme was launched last October.
“There are some people who are in the minority that we are having challenges with in terms of finding them,” he said, while also stressing that such persons were in the minority and “at least 99 per cent” of the persons who would have accessed the loan have repaid.
Nevertheless, Sutherland warned that the worrying trend needed to be stamped out.
“We [government] have ways and means of recovering our money and I as the minister and indeed the trust fund unit manager will put the necessary systems in place to ensure that we recover the money.
“We trust you and we want you to trust yourself . . . the persons who would have accessed the loan and would have benefited in terms of enhancing their business, we want you to do the right thing and repay the loan,” he said.
Sutherland acknowledged that in light of the “challenging times”, some business owners may encounter difficulty repaying, but cautioned against dodging government’s loan officers.
“At least call the trust loan officer, manager or whoever and say to them ‘we cannot pay this month or I can only pay a small portion of what I am supposed to pay.’ We will work with you,” he promised, “but do not come and take the money with the view that you are not going to repay. We don’t want to go that route. We are here to grow businesses,” he said.
Sutherland further stressed that not every successful applicant would be given a $5000 loan because the amount of money loaned would be based on need and on the ministry’s analysis of each business.
“If you need $3000 in your business and we analyze that you only need $3000, we are not going to give you $5000. It is based on need and not want, because we have other persons here who really would like to access the funding. We will assess your need and we will give you the funds accordingly,” he said.