A representative of the business community is calling on government to intervene and to make it possible for them to enjoy reduced interest rates in order to secure financing.
President of the Antigua & Barbuda Employer’s Federation Leslie Salmon said a tripartite of the government, unions and social partners should come together to force down the cost of doing business in Antigua & Barbuda.
“The prime minister mentioned that they were able to negotiate good rates of capital for the government — 1 per cent and 2 per cent. I would also like the prime minister to assist the private sector for us to operate businesses in Antigua that we can get capital at a better rate than we are getting now. Getting loans in Antigua to do business [requires] you to pay very high rates,” Salmon said.
The Employers’ Federation president said operational costs are high throughout the Caribbean region and serve as a hindrance.
Salmon noted that a tripartite arrangement would make the destination attractive to more investors who bring jobs with their developments, making Antigua & Barbuda most competitive amongst its neighbours.
“If you have the infrastructure, but it is too expensive to do business here, then we are going to have the nice seaport and airport. But if it’s expensive, then it defeats the whole purpose.
“Now, only the government should have access to cheap capital, but you have to find ways for businesses to have cheap capital so they can be more profitable, and they can hire more people,” he told the Big Issues.
In Febuary 2015, the ECCB reduced the minimum savings deposit rate from 3 per cent to 2 per cent. This decrease preceded the September 2002 drop from 4 to 3 per cent.
Scotiabank Country Manager Gordon Julien said then this was good news for customers and the economy, as banks would drop interest rates on loans.