(CNS): Commerce Minister Joey Hew announced a low-interest loan program for 100% Caymanian-owned micro and small businesses and a grant initiative for local businesses that could survive the post-COVID-19 economy. At Monday’s press conference, Hew described the first steps in a stimulus package the government plans to implement once curfew restrictions are relaxed, but said more measures are underway. for the commercial sector at large.
The minister said that the priority was always the health crisis and to ensure that we limit the spread of the virus or aplations the curve of this spread. But he said the government was preparing for a post COVID-19 local economy.
The $ 5 million loan program, which will be provided through the Cayman Islands Development Bank, is aimed at Cayman-owned micro and small businesses. Loans will be valued at 1% interest over five years, with no payment for the first six months. Loans will be a maximum of $ 20,000 for micro businesses and $ 50,000 for small businesses. All applicants will need to meet specific criteria.
The other major financial support will come from grants, with $ 9 million earmarked for 3,000 vulnerable businesses. This money will be returned to existing micro and small businesses in the form of a monthly payment of $ 1,000 for three months to give them working capital.
These companies must have been in existence for 12 months; they must also show that they have a domestic market and demonstrate that they can survive the local post-virus economy. Grants will also be available for tourism businesses that can show they can grow into a viable national business.
“The loan program will be 100% targeted to Caymanian-owned businesses,” Hew said. “The grant program is aimed at small and micro businesses… but the key problem is that if you were a tourism related business, you have the opportunity to convert your business into one that can survive in the new local economy. “
The government cannot support a former tourism company that cannot make the transition because it “does not make sense,” the minister said, stressing that there would be a very long way to go before tourism returns. However, the training offer and the technical offer of this first package of measures will also try to help the old people of tourism to see if there is a way to adapt each business model.
Hew said his ministry is considering various incentives and other stimulus packages that will be available at all levels to help businesses come back. He said the ministry will continue to talk to the local business community through the Small Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce about what can work.
The Prime Minister said the government supports the idea of retirement leave and maybe even cash withdrawals, but that will require legislative changes.
How the parliament can meet remains in question. In addition to the social distancing measures that worry the Prime Minister, the leader has yet to address the thorny issue of the absence of a Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, given that McKeeva Bush took a leave of absence absence and is subject to possible prosecution, and the the vice-president resigned.
Details of these programs will be disseminated to the business community, but also posted on the site. Coronavirus IGC website and the Ministry’s Center for the Development of Enterprises by e-mail to [email protected]
See the CIGTV media briefing below, which will begin with Minister Hew’s prepared remarks.