Virtual Press Conference on Unveiling of the MSME Support Program
Tune into the Facebook page of the Government of Belize Press Office today, Thursday, July 2nd, at 10:00 a.m. for a live stream of the Prime Minister's Virtual Press Conference on the Unveiling of the MSME Support Program.
Re: Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Support Program
#543308 07/02/2010:06 AM07/02/2010:06 AM
For many in the tourism sector, who've been laid off for
months - the worst is already upon them.
They got some measure of relief today when the government announced
that the second phase of its unemployment relief program was going into
effect at the middle of this month.
Additionally, there will be money set aside for struggling micro, small
and medium enterprises to access working capital and keep their staff
employed. Here's more from a virtual press conference via the zoom
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"We are today announcing the start of phase two of the national
unemployment relief program. And we are also unveiling a new initiative
to provide special assistance to the so called MSME's, that is micro
small and medium enterprises."
Dr. Carla Barnett - Economic Czar
"It's an important transition because we're moving, we're broadening the
focus from simply dealing with unemployment relief, to employment
protection, employment creation, employment generation through the micro,
small and medium enterprises."
Studies have shown that the vast majority of jobs and income are generated
in the MSME sector and give them a little cash infusion could mean
resuscitating the economy.
Dr. Carla Barnett
"So keeping them alive yes, employing people so that they can go and
purchase and pay their bills and keep their families alive, yes but that is
how we define economic activity that's what it is."
So, these small engines of economic stability will be eligible for low
Dr. Carla Barnett
"In phase two of the program we're setting aside two million which would be
grants for micro enterprises; 7 million for unemployment relief which would
be paid through MSME's who keep their employees social security payments up
to date; and we will be setting aside five million to provide soft loans
for working capital to assist MSME's in preparing for the re-opening, and
basically to keep them alive and keep their employees livelihoods together
as we transition through this very difficult economic time."
Hon. Tracy Panton - Min. of State - Investment
"There are three categories of micro and small enterprises that will be
addressed in this program, the micro enterprises themselves that have two
to four persons that are employed, including the owner of that business;
small enterprises identified as those entities that have five to 20
employees; and medium enterprises between 21 and 50 employees."
"Two million dollars has been set aside for grants to the micro
enterprises across the country. In addition to the two million dollars,
ahm, that will come from the government coffers, the Beltraide Board of
Directors has approved an additional 500k to add to this amount so that
we can serve another 200 or so micro enterprises with the small grants
program. There is also the 7 million dollars which will be used for
wage subsidies, and then another 5 million dollars set aside for
working capital for medium enterprises. For enterprises that are
classified as 5 to 20 employees, the cap on the loans would be 15k, and
for medium enterprises the cap would be 25k dollars. It is expected
that there would be a 12 month grace period for these entities that are
approved under the small grants program and that the interest rate
would be 3% over a period of two years."
And what businesses qualify?:
Dr. Leroy Almendarez - Executive Director, BELTRAID
"They must be engaged in these following areas: tourism and leisure,
transportation and logistics, agriculture, agro-processing, fisheries,
light manufacturing, creative and cultural industries and commercial free
zone, but we're focussing more, it's really a focus on the employees, those
who can access that wage subsidy that was mentioned, that 7 million dollar
age subsidy, and of course they must have been negatively impacted by COVID
It's a big plan to try and get a derailed economy back on track:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"All of this is calculated to try to produce the start of the recovery that
we are all longing for. We believe this is going to be relief that is
tangible that people can feel and that will assist enormously with the post
covid re start to the economy."
Government of Belize Announces the MSME Support Program
The Government of Belize, through a collaborative effort lead by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, the Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, and BELTRAIDE, hereby advises the public that it will roll out the second phase of Government’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Program.
The second phase includes the continuation of the Unemployment Relief Program and incorporates a new component, the Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Support Program. The objectives of the programs in the second phase are to continue providing direct cash relief for workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and also to MSMEs that have suffered revenue loss. The program is expected to help safeguard and promote employee retention, as well as assist MSMEs as they transition and adapt to the economic challenges presented by the pandemic.
Under phase two, the Government has allocated a total of $28.5 million apportioned across the various elements listed below:
1. $9 million: Unemployment relief – employees laid off 2. $5 million: Unemployment relief – self-employed suffering loss of income 3. $2.5 million: Grants to micro-enterprises from across the country, with a cap of $2,500 each. 4. $7 million: Wage subsidies to promote employee retention on the condition that these businesses keep their employees’ Social Security contributions current. 5. $5 million: Soft-loan component limited to approved small- and medium-sized enterprises to assist with working capital in preparation for reopening and accelerating production. This financing would be channeled through the National Bank of Belize. The cap on loans to small enterprises will be $15,000.00, and for medium enterprises $25,000.00.
Beneficiaries of the MSME Support Program will be segmented into three (3) categories determined by the number of employees:
1. Micro Enterprises: which employ 2 - 4 persons, including the owner 2. Small Enterprises: which employ 5-20 employees 3. Medium Enterprises: which employ 21-51 employees
The MSME program will target established enterprises, operating for at least one year prior to March 2020, impacted by COVID-19 in the following industries: (i) Tourism and Leisure, (ii) Agriculture and Agro-processing, (iii) Fisheries and Aquaculture, (iv) Light Manufacturing, (v) Creative Industry, (vi) Offshore Outsourcing, and (vii) Commercial Free Zones (wage subsidy for employee retention only).
All approved MSMEs would be encouraged to sign on to and participate in the small business development programs offered by BELTRAIDE, which are designed the strengthen the capacity of MSMEs to manage their businesses, grow their markets and incorporate the use of ICT to enhance productivity. They would therefore receive:
a. Personalized business advising b. Customized business training c. Marketing and distribution support
Phase two of Government’s COVID-19 relief effort is expected to be launched on August 1, 2020, with all disbursements being completed within 90 days. More information on the application process will be shared with the public once finalized.