Gov’t plans to empower local business owners

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The government will be putting steps in place to ensure that Antiguans and Barbudans would be able to operate thriving business entities. 
“The government wants to see more black Antiguans creating wealth-owning businesses,” Minister of Labour Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said. “What the government has to do is to preserve and protect local people, to give them the first priority when opening businesses.”
To this end, he said that his administration intends to provide nationals with soft loans and concessions, along with the assistance necessary to write business plans to take to the bank.
 Speculations are at an all-time high that Syrians, Lebanese and Chinese-owned operations dominate the local market, but Benjamin said that government will be conducting a survey to determine which nationalities control the most businesses in the country.
This was not the first time that a government official has spoken of the apparent domination of the Syrian, Lebanese and other immigrant classes in the business community.
In December 2015, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Senator Lennox Weston came under fire after he stated in Parliament that the government will be taking action to empower local black people and to stop the domination of Syrians.
And, last year at a public consultation for a new development at Fort James, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that black Antiguans are the people he wanted to see first in line to buy into the venture.
Meantime, well-known Author, Speaker, and Clinical Psychologist Dr Marcus Mottley said that successive government administrations have not made any meaningful efforts to develop black Antiguan entrepreneurs.
“The focus of successive administrations has historically been on expanding the economy so that our people could find work and employment. Their strategies to accomplish this have been centred on attracting investors and employers from abroad as well as leveraging their relationships with local Syrians and Lebanese business owners,” Dr Mottley said Sunday on The Big Issues.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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