Businesses question Small Business Grant
Many business owners applying for the Small Business Grant (SBG) are displeased at the turnout.
The SBG is intended to help small business employers keep their employees, helping people stay employed during the ongoing pandemic. Unlike the SME grant of 2020, the SBG of 2021 will be over the course of 8 months, reimbursing the employer 50% of the wage up to maximum of VT15,000 a month per employee.
The applications for the SBG and the Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) opened in July of this years and closed on September 30 with over 1,500 business that applied for the grant.
The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) had stated that businesses who applied late would not need to worry as all the payments, if the business was accepted for the WSS or SBG, would be backdates to the month of May.
VCCI Business Adviser, Joanna Spencer stated; “Businesses will not lose out whether they apply now or in September. They will still be paid for the 8-month period.”
This has not been the case for businesses whose applications for the WSS or SBG have been accepted, some business owners share that their businesses have yet to see any outcome of the application they have submitted earlier this year.
Obed Daniel Philips is among the many that applied for the SBG. He applied for the business grant 2 weeks after the opening of the application, with the help of VCCI.
“Since the application we have not gotten any response at all but many other small businesses share that the payment is only backdated a month,” he said.
“If I were to receive word that I would only be receiving 1 month back payment after we were promised to be backdated up to May, I would be very displeased as it cannot possibly sustain my business.”
Nancy Alexander is also an SBG applicant who has faced the issue with the 1 month back payment. Her business is among those already approved for the grant but she shares that this is only backdated a month.
According to Nancy, the bank statement for the amount put into her businesses account simply states SPG June-July and she cannot yet access her funds as she alleges that the transaction was not clarified by the Ministry of Finance with her bank.
“The amount is not what was expected as VCCI had stated we would be covered for 8 months, this amount simply cannot do that,” she said.
“We are awaiting a response from the Ministry of Finance as VCCI says it will clarify the reason for these complications.”
In attempts to get information from the Ministry of Finance concerning the matter, the Communications officer for the Stimulus team, Lillyrose Welwel stated that any queries following the SBG and the WSS will be clarified at an upcoming signing and press conference that the Minister of Finance will be hosting to give an update.
“At the moment, everyone with authority to talk with the media cannot do so until the Minister of Finance gives an official update at this press conference,” she said.