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Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 21, 2016 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, has announced that a further US$1 million has been secured from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through its Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) St. Kitts-Nevis Limited to fund the Fresh Start Programme.
During his first press conference for 2016, held January 19, Prime Minister Harris said that increased opportunities to earn more and generate wealth fell under his government’s Prosperity Agenda.
“You would be aware that we had the Fresh Start Programme through the assistance from the Government of Venezuela and the Development Bank, that provided an initial tranche of US$5 million, just around EC$13 million plus, and that went like a frenzy,” he said. “We were lucky to have the Venezuelan Government again advance another US$1 million to take the total up to US$6 million so that EC$16 million were available. Just over 200 applicants have been approved and have been paid. The EC$16 million therefore are no more. That again has gone to satisfy the heavy demand in the country by the small and medium-sized entities.”
The prime minister further revealed that additional funding for the programme was being sought locally.
“And so the government is considering a subvention to the bank to support additional resources to meet a portion of the unsatisfied demands for low cost financing by small businesses under the the Fresh Start programme,” Prime Minster Harris said, noting that this type of funding is not customarily provided by commercial banks.
The Fresh Start loan which is specifically for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is distributed by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN.) General Manager of the DBSKN, Mr. Lenworth Harris had informed at the signing ceremony on September 04, 2015, that the maximum loan per person would not be more than US$100,000 at an interest rate that should not exceed five percent and repayment would be based on the nature of the business that is being funded. While repayment could start almost immediately, it is based on a reducing balance basis whether with monthly or weekly installments as appropriate.