National News

Samaroo Advocates for Enhanced Skills Training Programs Financing For Micro and Small Business

Samaroo Advocates for Enhanced Skills Training Programs Financing For Micro and Small Business
Komal Samaroo

WASHINGTON, DC – Executive Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and the newly set up World Trade Center Georgetown (WTCG) Komal Samaroo has called for an effectively coordinated program to facilitate training of Caribbean youth in basic technical skills such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical and automotive technicians and for appropriate financing to assist with having these youth become micro and small entrepreneurs with the capacity to grow over time.

This was the consistent call last week in the US capital as the top Caribbean corporate executive undertook a series of public and private engagements with US government and elected officials and participants in Caribbean Legislative Week activities on Capitol Hill put on by the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

It was also the main thrust of Samaroo’s remarks at a working lunch in the Rayburn House on Capitol Hill hosted by DDL which also featured remarks by US Congressman Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), Katharine Beamer, Director of the Caribbean Office at the US State Department and Dr. Peter Ramsaroop’s keynote remarks on behalf of Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips.

“As our economies in the region expand to include sectors such as oil and gas and as we use the resources garnered therefrom to further develop our agribusiness, tourism and other sectors the demand for skilled technicians will grow  and we have got to prepare from now to ensure that these skills are provided by the people of the region. We see this demand already outstripping supply in Guyana where transformational development is taking place and the demand for skilled labor is hardly being met,” Samaroo told guests at the lunch.

Pointing to US Department of Labor statistics which show that 55 per cent of new jobs in America are created by small business, Samaroo argued that the same is required in the CARICOM region especially since there is the demand for businesses that can use evolving technologies and this demand can be met by well trained and adequately financed small entrepreneurs.

He referred to the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED)in Guyana which was started over two decades ago with a grant of $US 500,000 from the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF)and matched by local private sector. Over the years IPED has disbursed thousands of loans to micro and small entrepreneurs who could not qualify for loans from the formal banking sector.

“With counselling and effective monitoring, a majority of these loan recipients has been successful, and this approach needs to be intensified and expanded so that the youth of the region can take advantage of current and emerging opportunities. This is an approach that both US and CARICOM governments and private sectors should examine,” he advised.

Aware that not all CARICOM member states including are currently eligible for concessional financing due to their high -income status, Samaroo in private discussions with US officials posited that a regional approach could be adopted, and the initiative tangibly supported by the regional private sector.

He noted the constant reference to youth during various panel discussions during Legislative Week and the need to uplift and motivate the region’s young people to be productive and avoid criminal activity. “From what I have been hearing an intensified basic skills training program would serve as an effective mechanism to assist in ensuring security in the region,” he said at a meeting at the US State Department with Katharine Beamer and her team.

A recurring topic during the week’s activities was the question of the Caribbean’s effective engagement with the US. While many participants in the week’s activities complained of US neglect of the CARICOM region, mainly because it is a peaceful region, some US personalities cited the lack of outreach to US agencies and organizations and claim that when reached out to via visits by US officials to the region, commitments to follow up are often not kept.

In discussions with Allyson Browne Mc Kithen, Executive Director of World Trade Center Washington, DC at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, it was agreed that the centers will work closely in the future along with relevant agencies and organizations to help advance the trade and development agenda between Guyana and the US, and where applicable the CARICOM region.

During the engagements in Washington DC, Mr. Samaroo paid courtesy calls on Congressman Jackson and Katharine Beamer at the State Department, participated in Legislative Week discussions in both the House and Senate of the US Congress including a briefing with Francesca Eremeeva, a top aide of US Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland; informal discussions with officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), USAID and USTDA.

A conducted tour of the US Library of Congress by architectural historian John Hancock Dickson was also part of the weeklong visit.

Mr. Komal Samaroo was accompanied by Mr. Wesley Kirton, Executive Director of WTC Georgetown who is also the co-chair of Caribbean Legislative Week planning committee.


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

Related Articles

Back to top button