The ABLP’s Vision 2023 and Beyond envisages widening ownership of our economy to give Antiguans and Barbudans a greater stake. To facilitate this, the ABLP has introduced the Prime Minister’s Entrepreneurial Development Programme (EDP), capitalizing it with $1 million.
The EDP envisions our people tapping into niche markets, pursuing innovations in technology, capitalizing on the market access made possible by the internet, developing small businesses and offering services and products that are attractive to locals and visitors alike.
Essentially, the programme visualizes our people making use of their talents, innate abilities, artistic and cultural skills, and intellectual capital to create an Antigua and Barbuda brand that becomes known, the world over.
The programme will empanel a group of successful entrepreneursandotherexperts from the public and private sectors to review business proposals submitted by would be entrepreneurs, to advise whether the applicant should receive funding and support through the EDP.
In addition to being eligible to receive financing, successful EDP applicants can also:
- Purchase land for their business at a rate of $3.00 per square foot.
- Receive generous concessions, including tax waivers on the importation of material and capital equipment, and, where applicable, corporate tax holidays.
- Pursue public-private sector partnerships with the Government.
There will also be a venture capital component to the EDP, which will create opportunities for private businesses and publicly owned companies such as WIOC, State Insurance and NAMCO, to invest in businesses developed by young entrepreneurs.
The EDP will be further funded by a telecommunications Tax of 5 cents per minute charge on incoming calls that will be paid by the external source and will not increase the local costs. This will put $3 million annually into the EDP for disbursement to qualifying persons.
EMPOWERING OUR YOUTH: GIVING THEM A ROLE IN NATIONAL DECISION-MAKING
While the Entrepreneurial Development Programme is not meant for young people only, it is hoped that they will take full advantage of it. The ABLP is determined to make youth empowerment an important deliverable of Vision 2023 and Beyond.
Our programmes for empowering the youth of Antigua and Barbuda is not limited to the opportunities that the EDP will provide, it also opens the benefits of education and access to lands and home ownership.
Through the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Fund, the ABLP Government has already provided over $20 million annually for young people to pursue studies in countries across the globe. Today, there are over 1,000 Antiguans and Barbudans pursuing their dreams of higher education.
In addition, ABLP Government created the National Student Loan Fund which provides very concessional loans to Antiguan and Barbudan students to pursue tertiary or specialized training, or certification at local, regional and international institutions. This Student Loan Fund has provided a total of $21.6 million in loans to 814 students. Together, the Scholarship Fund and the Student Loan Fund are making a positive contribution to building the human capital of Antigua and Barbuda.
The ABLP also intends to revive our “Land for Youth Programme” that the UPP callously discarded. This programme forms part of the general land distribution initiative envisaged in our Vision 2023 and Beyond.
Additionally, the ABLP pledges to include at every general election, as we have done for this one, a person under the age of 30 as a candidate. The views of the young must be heard in the Councils of our country and they must participate in decision-making at the highest levels.