President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Verla DePeiza is once again calling on the Mia Mottley led administration to assist small business owners who are struggling to make ends meet, by reducing import duties.
DePeiza, who led a number of DLP candidates through The City this morning, told members of the media that merchants are crying out that while there has been a reduction in business due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that they are finding it difficult to cope with increased shipping costs.
DePeiza said merchants are calling on Government to offer them some type of relief.
“The livelihoods of our people are in jeopardy, they are feeling it and they are speaking up about it and they are expecting that solutions will be brought that would address it for them,” she said.
DePeiza indicated that some business owners have informed her that they are making preparations for the upcoming Christmas season, “but they are not holding their breath”.
She said, several entrepreneurs noted that they would like to have a good Christmas, even though they are acutely aware of the issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of loved ones and friends to the viral infection. In fact, DePeiza said the business owners are looking for a leader who will step up and make the calls that would allow them to have a good Christmas.
“We are very touched by what we are hearing today. There are people who come out on a daily basis and set up without knowing whether or not they would have a sale. Their rents are not burdensome, those who are on the road, but those who are in buildings sometimes can’t meet their rents,” she said.
“There is some aspect where some individuals are also business owners and they are worried about their future. These are some issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency because the feeling that we are getting coming out is hopelessness that has to be addressed and has to be addressed very shortly.”
DLP candidate for The City Kemar Stuart commented that his party was interested in returning the spending power to residents. However, Stuart said some merchants believe that the implementation of the Valued Added Tax (VAT) on online transactions, nicknamed the Amazon tax, which came into effect in February 2019, is a heavy burden for them to carry.
Stuart said: “The Amazon tax has greatly impacted many of the businesses in The City, which is causing them to pay a higher cost, on top of the shipping cost as well. So, we think that these two ideas need to be revisited as soon as possible to drive some type of commerce in The City. If you even look further you would see that many of the businesses are being closed.”
The City candidate also indicated while younger persons are heading to The City to operate small businesses, there is a need for provisions to be put in place to allow them to easily access licences.
“As it relates to cultural dynamics that are arising in The City, we are seeing quite a few younger persons coming out selling or vending and persons are asking for licences to ply their trades legally without harassment from the police. So, we want some clarity as it relates to a national vending policy that will assist the residents in plying their trade.” (AH)