The Government of Saint Lucia has launched another component of its Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan, which is a US$2.6 Million Loan/Grant facility aimed at assisting micro, small and medium-sized (MSME) businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Economic Development, in collaboration with the Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB), on Friday, November 20, launched the Climate Adaptation Financing Facility, Business Recovery Programme (CAFF-BRP).
The CAFF-BRP is one of thirty-two initiatives which form part of Saint Lucia’s Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan (ERRP) which was launched on July 12.
The EERP is the government’s flagship response strategy intended to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to curtail the negative fallout the virus is having on the Saint Lucian economy and society.
The CAFF-BRP was formulated after months of negotiations with the World Bank to allow the Government of Saint Lucia to repurpose a portion of the (CAFF) which is part of the broader Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP).
The CAFF-BRP creates a second line of credit in order to make available much-needed liquidity to the MSME sector in the form of a mixture of grant and low-cost loans, while the original CAFF which provides credit for climate disaster resilience building for the private sector continues to be offered by the Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB).
Vincent Boland, the managing director of SLDB, in explaining the CAFF-BRP stated: “Cognizant of the deleterious impact Covid-19 is having on the business sector, the government and the SLDB took the bold decision to provide the CAFF-Business Recovery Programme funds to the SLDB at a rate of 0.0 per cent, to ensure that CAFF-BRP loans are made as affordable as possible and to allow the SLDB to incorporate a grant component into each CAFF-BRP loan provided to the business sector.”
He added: “As a result, the Saint Lucia Development Bank will be on-lending the CAFF-BRP loans at a starting interest rate of 3.75 per cent, with the minimum loan amount of $20,000, while the maximum loan is capped at $200,000. Grants up to 15 per cent of the loan but capped at $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises respectively.”
The CAFF-BRP grant and loans will be provided for projects that support business continuity and recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic and or for climate resilience with a grace period of six months.
The Executive Director of the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Brian Louisy, addressing the audience at the launch said:
“Our Small business sector has been more severely affected by COVID-19 than their larger counterparts, for a number of reasons.
“The Chamber’s COVID-19 Impact Survey Take 2 points this out very clearly, with the small and medium businesses experiencing greater loss of sales and revenue than larger businesses, while, performing equally as well in retaining staff and maintaining salary levels.”
Vickram Cutaree, the World Bank’s Programme Leader for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure in the Caribbean, congratulated the Government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Development Bank on the launch of the CAFF Business Recovery Program, which demonstrates the country’s commitment to supporting the viability of its small businesses, farmers and fisherfolk during these unprecedented times.
Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, addressing both the in-studio and virtual audience thanked the World Bank for its nimbleness and responsiveness and for a quick turn-around on this initiative during this trying period.
Guy Joseph, the minister with responsibility for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation, also thanked the World Bank for allowing Saint Lucia to leverage the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project funds to respond to this pandemic.
He noted that funds from the DVRP were used to convert the 133-year-old Victoria Hospital into a Respiratory Clinic, as well as to stimulate economic activity through the fast-tracking of several disaster resilience construction projects, in addition to desilting initiatives which were timely, given the deluge of precipitation Saint Lucia witnessed over the past two weeks.
Businesses interested in participating in the Climate Adaptation Financing Facility – Business Recovery Programme are asked to call the SLDB at +1-758-456-7532 or visit the SLDB’s website at https://www.sldb.lc/.
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