Over 700 SME Grant Applicants Disqualified

Over 700 businesses who applied for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Grant under the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) did not meet the revised criteria endorsed by the Council of Ministers (COM).

This was recently disclosed by the Ministry of Finance after applications had closed for the SMEs Grant under the 2020 ESP and reconciliations by the Department of Finance and Treasury.

The Ministry explained that the Implementing Team uncovered that a total of 1,612 had yet to receive their payments, due to several reasons, including: invalid business licences, duplicate business licences, incorrect bank details and missing supporting documents.

The COM was of the view that the majority, if not all, of the businesses which were classified as having issues were as a result of the initial stringent criteria thus relaxed the said criteria, endorsing that all remaining 2020 SME grant applicants will be qualified to receive their SME grants only if they provide a reliable documentation by way of a business licence.

These business licences must be issued between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. They must also bear the provincial government’s stamp and/or letterhead, licensee’s name, signature and/or name of the representative of the licensing authority and business licence number.

Applications were then reassessed manually against the revised criteria. The reassessment identified 291 duplicated business licence numbers and these were corrected and paid. Furthermore, manual reassessment confirmed 223 business licences which were previously recorded as outstanding electronically were in fact paid.

At least 706 did not meet the revised criteria while 392 met the required criteria.

Delays in settling payment for the 392 was attributed to incorrect Bank account details and dormant Bank accounts. The Ministry of Finance stated it was very challenging to reach respective applicants to have such details corrected, thus, after three failed attempts to reach applicants, the applicants’ statuses were automatically changed to disqualified applicants.

The Ministry assured payments to qualified applicants under the 2020 SMEs Grant will be processed directly to each respective account this week.