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VI must beware of the 'Amazons' of the world- Hon Penn

- calls for protection of local business through a 'Fair-trade Legislation'
Ahead of the passing of the Virgin Islands 'Consumer Protection Act, 2020' last evening June 8, 2020, in the House of Assembly (HoA), Opposition Leader Hon Marlon A. Penn urged legislators to advance Fair-trade legislation with the aim of protecting local businesses. Photo: HoA/Youtube/Amazon
Opposition Leader Marlon A. Penn said in the United States, as big as its economy is, have measures in place to ensure businesses are protected in that economic environment. Photo: Internet Source
Opposition Leader Marlon A. Penn said in the United States, as big as its economy is, have measures in place to ensure businesses are protected in that economic environment. Photo: Internet Source
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Ahead of the passing of the Virgin Islands 'Consumer Protection Act, 2020' last evening June 8, 2020, in the House of Assembly (HoA), Opposition Leader Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) urged legislators to advance Fair-trade legislation with the aim of protecting local businesses.

'We have to ensure that there is a fair and levelled playing field in the consumer markets, in the business arena," he told legislators during the Eighth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) at the Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff's Bottom, Tortola.

With regards to the VI, Hon Penn said currently wholesalers are still competing with the retailers for the same market and selling the same products which can be uncompetitive.

Legislative Framework to protect businesses

"That can't lend itself to unfair competition, you need a legislative framework to be able to guard against that type of behaviour and ensuring that there is no unfair competitive advantage to persons who are trying to survive in the business market," he said.

He added that the United States, as big as its economy is, has measures in place to ensure businesses are protected in that economic environment.

"We in the BVI as a small economy, also have to be very careful... how we allow big businesses to come into our Territory, how we allow them to set up shop in the BVI and manage and understand the implications of those businesses operating within our economic environment," he said.

Watch out for big businesses - Hon Penn

Pointing to large global companies like Amazon, an online retailer, and its ability to use economies of scale to gain a competitive advantage over small business, Hon Penn said the Territory should be aware.

"We already have the advent of the Amazons of the world, and what Amazon has done in terms of its impact on small businesses functioning within an environment."

Hon Penn said the balance is not to restrict the free market from having variety, rather, examining the impacts that large companies can have on grassroot businesses that drive the economy.

He called for education of the population on how consumer behaviour can sometimes impact the local economy.

"We also have to help our businesses to step up their game as well to be able to be innovative, [and] to offer the variety," Hon Penn said.

15 Responses to “VI must beware of the 'Amazons' of the world- Hon Penn”

  • blablabla (09/06/2020, 17:11) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    what are we really producing in the BVI?
    • Edmond says (09/06/2020, 22:12) Like (28) Dislike (1) Reply
      He has got it completely wrong. The best outcome for the consumer is cheap prices and good service - the way this is achieved is with competition. Protecting local businesses means stopping competition and letting those businesses get away with high prices and bad service.
  • Anonymous (09/06/2020, 17:39) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    Smuf should tell the people why the wicked ndp could not pass the consumer Protection bill thank god for the vip government
  • Why (09/06/2020, 19:19) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    That is why the BVI is so slow and hard to keep up with the World. You may not like how the World is evolving but in order to survive you have to go along with the program.
  • Parable (09/06/2020, 20:52) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    When you get proven wrong many times and have nothing but a "point"less argument,you jump in the haystack.
    Kind of embarrassing. Sit down Marlon. Is the Syrian you trying to say in a smart way. Why not just say it out your mouth.
  • Anonymous (09/06/2020, 23:07) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    we need a new Opposition leader point blank
  • ratttie (09/06/2020, 23:13) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The ndp think there doing good because of many telling Marlon what to say and read hahahahaha
  • Me (09/06/2020, 23:17) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    People just start like Andrew, the VIP as a unit, with a few stand outs, is more capable.
  • Oh No (09/06/2020, 23:36) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Be careful of the crooks and conmen of the world. Be careful of wicked politicians. Be careful of evil. Be careful of smurfs.
    • Only difference (10/06/2020, 07:38) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      They need to spray paint Marlon blue like the smurfs. The only thing Mr. Smurf is doing is packing on the pounds.
  • E. Leonard (10/06/2020, 06:53) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The VI is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), a 59 square mile group of islands, islets, rocks.....etc spread over 36 islands, approx 15 of which are occupied and with an approx 30,000 population. It is resource-poor with a small, open service-based economy anchored by tourism and financial services that makes up the lion share of its Gross Domestic Product(GDP). It is also heavily travel and trade dependent, lacking the resources to develop either a primary (forestry, fishing, agriculture, minerals, precious metals) or secondary (manufacturing) economy.

    Moreover, it depends heavily on external investment and trade and is susceptible and vulnerable to external economic and environmental shocks. Producing very little, it has to import almost a 100% of its needs, including food, clothing, construction material, furnishing, automobiles, construction equipment, tools and appliances, electronics.......etc. This high import rate puts it at a trade disadvantage and allowing foreign entities, ie, MNCs and others to penetrate the economy and drives prices. Foreign entities have the capacity and ability to develop economies of scale and scope, providing them with an absolute competitive advantage.

    Nonetheless, government to the maximum extent practical and reasonable should take action(s) to lower the playing field for local businesses to thrive. Businesses too despite the stiff competition must do their part to deliver variety and provide high quality goods and services at reasonable prices. True, it is a high bar but businesses have to work harder to scale it.
    • @ E Leonard (10/06/2020, 09:33) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Very concise and well stated. These are the economic facts that define the BVI. One thing so many get hung up on is prices. Prices locally are high because the cost of doing business in the BVI is high. By the time a vendor ships in product paying freight, duty and warfage, then holding said inventory awaiting a sale he has tied up a lot of cash. To add insult to injury the BVI charges duty on freight! Duty is calculated on the invoice plus shipping costs. Customers can often buy for much less online as online vendors dont have the same costs as local business . However if you want a product now and cannot wait you are going to be faced with the local vendor price. That price reflects all of the costs of doing business in these virgin islands. What we need is more competition to ensure that vendors who offer poor service or are price gouging are driven from the marketplace.
    • Disinterested (10/06/2020, 12:17) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      @E. Leonard, yes, locals have to compete with the MNCs, the Big box stores.....etc but local businesses prices for goods and services are warped sky high. Businesses are greedy, price gouge and can do better in their pricing. The cost for the proverbial basket of goods is in the stratosphere. The lil man at bottom of the food chain is catching hell trying to make ends meet at a $6 per hour minimum wage. Is that a living wage? A large % of the population isn’t living pay check to pay check and the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed this light needed to be shone but was covered with a shade. Some structural changes in local business plans are needed, for the current plans missed the mark by a country mile. This may be an urban legend but why would people who can do rithmetic jump on ferry to St. Thomas to shop, incurring ferry and other transportation cost, food, duty.....etc cost (don’t forget about time and inconvenience) and feel that they came better than shopping at home. While all this is occurring local merchants sitting around twiddling their thumps or may they are scheming on how to further raise the prices on shoppers who stayed at home.

      You burst the people bubble by telling them the VI is a resource-poor country. Now, you know that we believe that the VI is a wealthy territory. We confused income with wealth. True, may 1% of the population commands a high a high income but that is not wealth. True, a few people live in mansions, and drive expensive cars but that is not a true indication of wealth. Perhaps, the Statistics Office can give us a breakdown of average wealth in the VI. A few weeks into the Covid-19 many residents were screaming for help. The bottom line is that the VI is not a wealthy locale and it is not experiencing a resource curse.
  • Truth (10/06/2020, 07:24) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Puppet does be all over the board ...marlon u headless
  • mins of finance (10/06/2020, 10:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    this should be coming from a territorial minister or the one for finance!


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