Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association Senator Lynette Holder has challenged the notion that some used car retailers in Barbados have been operating at an unfair advantage facilitated by the existing Customs tariff structure.
In fact, she has declared that micro and small enterprises by their nature are operating at a disadvantage and stressed that the Government should be aiming to protect them.
“This is why we continue to fight for small firms, for the simple reason that the business environment has never been level for them,” the SBA executive argued.
“You are applying the same tariff to two different things, because a new vehicle and a second hand vehicle are not the same, so you can’t have a tariff for the new and another one for the second hand,” Holder added.
The Government Senator’s comments come days after Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland pledged to put the brakes on “irregularities”, and create a “level playing field” for both new and used-car dealers.
He revealed plans to introduce legislation, a new “vehicle policy” to govern the importation and assembling of vehicles, examine issues relating to concessions and taxes on electric and hybrid vehicles, and establish a new registry of assemblers for vehicles in Barbados.
The move sparked a huge outcry from used cars dealers who felt disadvantaged.
A consortium of used car dealers however met with Minister Sutherland on Monday and reportedly expressed some satisfaction with the new policy that would include a registry of qualified assemblers, a common valuation method, and a used car cooperative.
The SBA’s CEO however maintained that new vehicles should not attract the same duties as used cars – some of which are imported in parts and assembled on the island.
“From my understanding, you have dealers that are bringing in parts and setting up vehicles and then on the other hand, the bigger players are bringing vehicles directly from the manufacturer and catering to different segments of the market. I think that those are factors that have to be considered. If it is that you have specificities within the market, any effort on the part of the Government has to treat to these things,” she added.
Senator Holder questioned the notion that such policy changes would “level the playing field”.
“You cannot have big businesses seemingly gobbling up all the market share and the small vulnerable players are not able to find their way in the market. That is my concern. So let’s work on a fair environment where all players can contribute,” suggested Holder.
“What I would want to see any Government look to do is create a business environment that is fair for all persons to make a contribution so that they can get a return on their investment. I would like to see a business environment where the small man can make an investment and get a return, and that the bigger businesses can get a return based on their investment . . .
“That is my concern, because the market is not fair and I think that our Government has a moral responsibility to work towards that fairness in the marketplace that allows the small guy to carve out an area for himself and it is not a case where only the big businesses are the ones that are surviving and thriving,” she added.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.