Business law to create equity for local commerce

| 23/09/2015 | 0 Comments
CNS Business

Wayne Panton, Minister of Financial Services, Commerce and Environment

(CNS): Revisions to the Trade and Business Licensing Law passed in the Legislative Assembly almost a year ago are expected to create a fairer environment for local commerce and increase compliance when the legislation is finally implemented next month. The main goal is to curtail illegal vending and make compliance easier, so the law offers fast track applications and more help to traders to encourage business on the one hand and confers powers to trade officers to fine those who fail to follow the law on the other.

“We think this new law facilitates business,” said the minister with responsibility for commerce, Wayne Panton, at a recent meeting to explain the details of the new legislation “It will be good for the economy, it will help businesses comply and ensure a level playing field and fair competition.”

He said the new law would increase efficiencies and speed up the process surrounding the application for trade and business licences, encouraging more entrepreneurs. It will also provide a framework to grant more concessions to help stimulate and develop certain sectors of commerce. Panton noted that small businesses are responsible for creating a significant amount of jobs in the economy and government must support them.

“The small businesses of today are the big business of tomorrow,” he said.

Government wants to see local business flourish, said the minister, and the law had been designed with that goal in mind.

Bilika Simamba, a legal drafting consultant who assisted the Department of Commerce and Investment with the law, explained that it should curtail illegal vending as it confers powers on the department’s trade officers to fine those trading without a licence via tickets, as they will have the powers of constables under the law. He said that illegal trading on beaches and on the streets was not just a problem of unfair competition for vendors who were compliant but it is also creating concerns over the negative impact hagglers have on tourists.

Despite increased penalties and the introduction of administrative fines, ranging from $100 to $2,500 depending on the infractions, DCI officials said the goal in the first place was to encourage compliance rather than punish but if traders continued to repeatedly flout the law, then they would be stopped. DCI Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh said that the aim was to help traders to get licensed. He also urged the community to help keep other business honest in the face of public concerns that a full scale black market is operating in Cayman that is undermining genuine businesses.

Small business owners at the meeting, however, raised a number of frequently observed breaches of the local trade laws. From visitors to Cayman from other Caribbean jurisdiction selling out of suitcases on the streets to more subtle infractions of traders licensed as hairdressers, for example, also turning their salons into retail shops, there were concerns that without an army of trade officers to enforce the law, the new legislation would have little impact.

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Category: Government, Local Business, Small Business

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