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Be careful! Our laws must not discourage people from doing business

Be careful! Our laws must not discourage people from doing business

The government is being warned against developing legislations that discourage business owners, especially young and aspiring entrepreneurs, from conducting business in the Virgin Islands.

Businessman and legislator, Mark Vanterpool, delivered that word of caution yesterday as the House of Assembly debated the Business Licensing Act, 2020 — a piece of legislation drafted to regulate businesses in the territory.

Vanterpool noted that some of the language used in the bill needs clarification as it can be discouraging for business owners.

The Fourth District Representative specifically noted Section 6(d) of the Act that currently says: “In deciding whether to grant or renew a licence, the Commission shall in addition to the requirements specified in sections 4 and 5, take into account … the necessity, if any, for the institution of quotas for the types and categories of businesses to be licensed and operated.”

“That is something that is being talked about in the business community and the public in general whether there should be a quota for certain types of businesses,” Vanterpool stated.

“We must be careful what we mean by ‘quotas for business’ and what it means for affecting business, for individuals who may have aspirations for doing business, and may be prevented from doing that business because of a quota. While it sounds good and it can be a good thing in a sense, it can be a bad thing in another sense,” the Fourth District Rep said.

Vanterpool used an example of a young entrepreneur returning to the territory to start a computer business but is rejected because of quotas.

“You might discourage a person who might have a computer business or what if it might be one who has gone to school and learned computers and all of sudden, he comes back and realises there can only be 10 computer licenses in the territory. What does that mean for me who is inspired to be a good computer engineer? Who says I can’t be the next Bill Gates on the block? And you are telling me that your quota is stopping me from doing business in the territory,” Vanterpool questioned.

“I’m not saying you don’t need quotas, but we need to be careful when we speak of quotas because it can sound good but have a negative effect and a discouraging and devastating effect on aspiring business owners, especially aspiring young business owners who want to come back and start a business,” Vanterpool continued.



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