Roadside vendors in Barbados are one step closer to getting improved conditiins under which to operate.
Minister in the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kirrie Symmonds told Barbados TODAY his ministry has been engaging has been engaging other stakeholders on the matter, and work is now at an advanced stage to get roadside vendors placed at various locations with potable water and restroom facilities.
He said that as recently as three weeks ago, officials from his Ministry met with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss the matter.
“We have worked out a way forward. We are now creating a larger committee because it is going to involve, to some extent, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Works because you are going to be using some aspects of the roadside, and the Ministry of Housing because of the land issue,” said Symmonds.
“The bottom line is that it has also been given the blessing of the Prime Minister and it is now a question of us going through the necessary budgeting exercises in order to begin the rollout.
We have also identified some sites where we believe this can be done.
So, I am hopeful that once we have cleared the Estimates during the course of the next couple of weeks, we should be able to move ahead.”
The Minister did not give a timeline for the introduction of the new vending legislation, and he opted not to disclose the locations identified for the vendors. He said it was his wish to have “very tastefully designed seating arrangements” at the planned locations.
“So, it is not just presenting people with running water and bathroom facilities, but also some seating so that you can then put the solar panels over the roof of that seating and you can enable it to have a more flood-lit type of atmosphere and allow for us to have some night-time economic activity in that community as well.
This is part of the design to enfranchise and empower that community in a way they have not been treated before,” said Symmonds.
The planned upgrade for wayside vending forms part of Government’s overall vending policy, which will seek to decriminalise selling along the highway and other areas across the country.
The pending Vending and Market Facilitation Act is also expected to make provision for expunging the records of vendors who have been convicted for plying their trade illegally.
Additionally, the promised vending policy should provide training opportunities for vendors. Earlier this year, Government also promised to introduce legislation to govern the expansion of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector.
This is expected to be accompanied by a national collateral registry.
Symmonds told Barbados TODAY work was also ongoing to have a more comprehensive database on the MSME sector to better facilitate its growth.
“One of the things we are trying to do is to become a lot more scientific. I have met with the Small Business Association and its new executive on this matter.
There needs to be an adequate and accurate way of capturing all of the start-ups in Barbados,” he said.
“Our task, really, is to be able to try to find a way of having a register that captures everybody. Frankly, that has been a challenge now facing Barbados.”