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

Opposition lawmaker and former public works minister Mark Vanterpool.

The government is warned against crafting legislation that discourages business owners, especially young and aspiring entrepreneurs, from doing business in the Virgin Islands.

Businessman and lawmaker Mark Vanterpool delivered the warning yesterday as the House of Assembly debated the Business Licenses Act 2020 – a bill drafted to regulate businesses in the territory.

Vanterpool noted that some terms used in the bill need to be clarified because they can be daunting for business owners.

The Fourth District representative specifically noted section 6(d) of the law which currently says, “In deciding whether to grant or renew a licence, the Commission shall, in addition to the requirements specified in Articles 4 and 5, take into account the need, if any, for the institution of quotas for the types and categories of undertakings to be authorized and operated.

“It’s something that’s talked about in the business community and the general public, whether there should be a quota for certain types of businesses,” Vanterpool said.

“We have to be careful what we mean by ‘business quotas’ and what that means for businesses, for people who may have aspirations to do business and who may be prevented from doing that business because of of a quota. While that sounds good and might be a good thing in one way, it might be a bad thing in another sense,” the Fourth District representative said.

Vanterpool used the example of a young entrepreneur who returns to the territory to start an IT business but is rejected due to quotas.

“You might discourage a person who might have a computer business or if it was someone who went to school and learned computer science and all of a sudden they come back and realize they don’t there may only be 10 computer licenses in the territory. What does this mean for me being inspired to be a good computer engineer? Who said I can’t be the next Bill Gates on the block? And you? tell me your quota is preventing me from doing business in the territory,” Vanterpool questioned.

“I’m not saying you don’t need quotas, but we have to be careful when we talk about quotas because it may 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,” continued Vanterpool.

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