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BEDC loan guarantee pushed to $9.9 million

More information should be shared with taxpayers about financial support being offered to entrepreneurs and small businesses by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the Senate heard yesterday.

Crystal Caesar, Junior Minister of Home Affairs, Economic Development and Tourism, outlined new initiatives designed to help business owners.

These included an increase in the BEDC's maximum loan guarantee percentage from 50 per cent to 65 per cent, to a maximum guarantee of $200,000, and the introduction of debt consolidation microloans of up to $20,000. Ms Caesar said the schemes would improve the chances of success for the island's entrepreneurs.

She added that the BEDC was able to write $9.9 million in loan guarantees — up from $6 million — and could increase its direct lending total from $500,000 to $825,000.

Opposition senator Andrew Simons requested more detail on why the increases were necessary.

He asked: “What's the number of companies or entrepreneurs that are maxing out the existing loan guarantees? If the existing guarantees are not being used, then I would just like to know the reason for the increase.”

Mr Simons also asked: “What's the current amount of direct lending from the BEDC, especially over the past few years? If the BEDC clearly has run out of capacity, then there are strong arguments to be made for increasing those loan amounts. If not, it would be useful to know the reasons for the lending increases.”

James Jardine, independent senator, said he would like to know how many guarantors had defaulted on their loans.

Ms Caesar said she would get the answers from ministry officials and bring them back to the Senate.

Progressive Labour Party senator Crystal Caesar

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Published May 31, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated May 31, 2018 at 8:16 am)

BEDC loan guarantee pushed to $9.9 million

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