Health Minister Marlon Penn has warned that companies should be prevented from entering the territory and becoming “predatory” to other companies.
Legislators were debating at the time of the Business Licenses Act 2020 in the House of Assembly (HOA).
“You cannot allow corporations to enter your territory and destroy the economic climate, the economic foundation of your country because of their purchasing power. We have to guard against that kind of behavior, that kind of predatory type behavior,” Penn argued.
He noted that the new law aims to address this type of behavior.
Penn said businesses that legitimately want to create jobs and opportunity and are socially responsible are welcome in the territory.
However, he said companies whose sole purpose is to monopolize the economy, undermine small franchises and bankrupt others present a problem.
“No, no, Prime Minister. That wouldn’t happen under my direction. I would continue to speak loudly about it,” Penn said.
It’s about preservation, not protectionism
Penn, who is also the representative for the Eighth District, suggested his concerns were not about “protectionism,” but rather about preserving small businesses.
And while sounding the alarm about what he called the “Walmart Effect,” Penn said BVI has strived and grown through the efforts of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in the territory.
Penn said companies with purchasing power well above the BVI’s GDP and annual budget should not be allowed to enter the territory, set up shop and do whatever they want.
These companies undermine small and medium-sized businesses, taking away their ability to compete and do business in the territory, he said.
According to Penn, some of that same behavior is happening in the territory right now.
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