It’s imperative that Finance Minister Colm Imbert urgently prioritize the inclusion of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) sector in his upcoming foreign exchange stakeholder engagements.
Mr. Imbert’s intended dialogues with the Central Bank, commercial banks, and broader business community, while significant, cannot sideline the acute challenges confronting SMEs. Pre-pandemic, SMEs numbered over 20,000, employed upwards of 200,000 workers, and contributed a substantial 35% to our GDP – undeniably underpinning our economic growth.
This core sector now grapples with intensified tribulations, exacerbated by the pandemic’s closures, foreign exchange shortages, a downtrending economy, and protracted VAT refund delays. Consequently, we’re witnessing an alarming decline in SME vitality, escalating unemployment rates, stunted innovation, and a pressurized middle class.
Moreover, the downturn of SMEs jeopardizes avenues for accruing crucial foreign exchange.
Mr. Imbert, recognizing the undeniable value and potential of SMEs, must act decisively. Incorporate SMEs into these pivotal discussions, and contemplate mechanisms that guarantee fair foreign exchange allocations to this indispensable sector. Given their historical significance and future promise, SMEs command and merit a significant voice in these imperative foreign exchange deliberations.