Noting what they describe as the government’s ‘inability to present a fully-articulated economic stimulus plan’ to date, the parliamentary Opposition has released what it believes to be a feasible plan of action for the British Virgin Islands.
A key part of that multiple-layered plan involves initiatives to support and sustain small and medium-sized businesses.
Opposition Leader Marlon Penn proposed that government implement an Employment Support Facility that provides ‘wage support’ through individual grants of up to $10,000.
He recommended that $5 million be earmarked for this initiative and said these grants should be paid directly to eligible employers.
Loan funding facility
The Opposition Leader said government could also implement a Loan Funding Facility where small businesses can qualify to borrow no more than $100,000. He further recommended that $15 million be dumped into this facility.
“Both the Employment Support and Loan Funding facilities should be used solely for wages, fixed costs, operational support, or debt servicing. In addition, the employment support could be used to cover the transition period to apply and obtain loan funding. In any event, all of these measures must be tied to businesses maintaining at least 50% of their workforce,” Penn stated.
Payroll tax waiver
He said government could also bring support to small businesses by implementing a three-month waiver on payroll taxes.
He further said the significance of keeping businesses opened could not be overstated.
“It is simple, if businesses are not able to withstand the impact of COVID-19 and do not come out on the other side of this with their doors open, there will be less economic activity, less contributions to government’s coffers, less monies circulating, and a sustained decline in our economy,” said Penn, who noted that the plan was drafted after listening to residents.
Notably, Premier Andrew Fahie has said, his administration’s full plan is being worked on and should be presented ‘soon’.