Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry (MTI), presented grants to 25 stakeholders totalling TT$3,483,568.60 at a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Friday 15 September, 2023 at the MTI Headquarters in Port of Spain.
The Grant Distribution Ceremony and Launch of the Expanded Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility showcased the Ministry’s ongoing programmes to support and develop globally competitive businesses, which is in direct alignment with Theme IV of the country’s National Development Strategy-Vision 2030 and the Roadmap for Trinidad and Tobago-Transforming to a New Economy and a New Society.
In delivering Remarks at the event, the Minister highlighted that the growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the non-energy sector continues to be a priority of the Government, given the invaluable contribution of these businesses to the economy in terms of revenue generation, employment creation and foreign exchange earnings. The Ministry’s robust incentive framework comprises a myriad of programmes and initiatives including, among others, the Grant Fund Facility (GFF), the Yachting Grant Fund Facility for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility (SMGFF).
Minister Gopee-Scoon provided an update on the encouraging performance of the various incentives offered by the Ministry. In relation to the GFF she noted that since its launch in 2017, 33 SMEs have benefitted from the Grant Fund Facility with an accumulated disbursement of TT$7,080,473.49. With respect to the Grant Fund Facility for MSEs in the yachting sector she stated that since the introduction of this Facility in 2022, 93 MSEs have been approved with a total payment of TT$2,281,349.85 to recipients. As for the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility the Minister indicated that since its launch in 2020, 9 businesses have benefitted from the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant with disbursements amounting to TT $1,730,247.
At the event the Minster also announced an expansion of the existing Steelpan Facility to include the production of sticks, stands, cases and chroming, as well as the provision of funding of up to TT$50,000 for participation in local exhibitions/trade shows and up to TT$200,000 for participation in international exhibitions/ trade shows. Additionally, to facilitate greater adoption and use of e-commerce, steelpan manufacturers can now access up to TT$25,000 in financial support for annual subscription fees related to the use of reputable online sales platforms and marketplaces (such as Planting Seeds, Amazon, eBay) for merchandising and selling of steelpans; and the adoption and use of credible online payment systems. In keeping with the focus on steelpan, the Minister also noted that Government recently established a Cabinet-appointed Steering Committee to further develop the steelpan industry. Its key objective is to provide strategic guidance for the development of a National Governance Framework for the industry. Mr. Mark Loquan, Chairman of the Steering Committee also gave Remarks during the ceremony.
The Minister congratulated the awardees and commended them for demonstrating an interest in the programmes and initiatives offered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and, more importantly, for successfully accessing the grants.
“These initiatives and partnership between the government and private sector demonstrate our commitment to economic expansion and advances the diversification agenda of the Ministry,” she said.
Also in attendance were Mr Randall Karim, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Jesse James, Vice President of the Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago and Professor Clement Imbert, Chairman, Metal Industries Company –IT.