BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 20TH 2014 (CUOPM) – Cabinet has accepted a number of recommendations aimed at streamlining the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF).
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas during a recent “Ask the Prime Minister” said that the operation of SEAF was placed on hold pending the outcome of the review.
Responding to a concern raised by a female caller, Dr. Douglas pointed out that the SEAF has been financed by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF).
“SEAF aims to assist small businesses, small entrepreneurs who have ideas and whose ideas are quite credible. Those who are willing to put those ideas into a business plan, who are willing to go through the government system and obtain a business license, pay their taxes and everything, but just need some capital to start your business and your ideas off the ground,” said the Prime Minister.
He said it was important to assess the programme to see what changes can be made and what changes should be made to improve its delivery to the people and that’s exactly what was done starting in November of last year.
The review of the programme has been completed and was presented to the Cabinet by the CEO of the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Association (SKIPA), Her Excellency Ambassador Roslyn Hazelle and the Accountant General, Mr. Levi Bradshaw, who used his team from the Internal Auditing Unit to review the entire programme, to see exactly how monies are being spent, how monies are being allocated and what use the money has been put to in order to approach the SIDF for financing.
“We made changes in the operation of the SEAF and so those persons who might have been on hold and who might have been waiting for the last three months, I can say definitively that by the beginning of February, especially for those who already had their loans approved, that they will be receiving the necessary support to start up their businesses,” said Dr. Douglas.
Dr. Douglas reiterated that the review exercise was critically important and is part of the accountability that government is pursuing.
“It is part of ensuring that there is nothing going wrong in the system so that if there was, we can easily correct it and thus make the necessary changes,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who used the opportunity to state that Ambassador Hazelle has done an excellent job.
“I want to commend her and her team for the work that has been covered to date. I want to thank those who have been responsible for assessing the operations of the programme to date; I want to thank the Accountant General and his executive officers for making the necessary recommendations to the Cabinet and I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and also the principles of the SIDF for agreeing that the changes needed to be made and thus the changes are being made,” said Dr. Douglas.