The day is coming when persons between ages 16 and 18 will be permitted to legally vend under special conditions, Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds has revealed.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, during the passing of a Resolution to approve a report of the Joint Select Committee laid in the House of Assembly on November 23, 2021, Symmonds said Clause 4 of the National Vending Bill has been redrafted to facilitate persons in that specified age group being able to legally vend under an apprenticeship programme.
“So that even if you cannot commercially contract, you can work with an established vendor who is licensed. And he is the person, or she is the person, you are working alongside of and that person might be your mother. You are able to get your experience in the business even though you can’t do the transaction yourself.
“And if it can be done for those at the lofty heights of the profession, why can’t it be done for those who are not so well off and so fortunate? That was the question put in the committee, and one has to yield and bend under the considerable weight of the influence of that argument. And therefore, we have taken that decision that there will be that special dispensation akin to apprenticeship which will allow us to incorporate young people in the business of vending without troubling the Minors Act,” he said.
Symmonds, who indicated that Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley, members of the Barbados Association of Retailers Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN), the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisations (BARNUFO), and the Wayside Vendors Business Association, among other stakeholders, said the legislation will also honour and sanction the commercial impulse of working-class Barbadians who since 1688, under a vicious slave code, were deprived of the opportunity to sell goods.
He said provisions are also being made to prevent vendors from being harassed or facing unreasonable impediments while plying their trade and will be entitled to 30 days notice prior to being evicted.
The minister said the Bill will now make provisions for itinerant vending which is the offering for sale of merchandise or the rendering of services from a vehicle parked in a vending zone or being driven from one customer’s premises to another, or for vendors to be able to operate at one location for a period of 12 hours or less.
He added that the Bill will also allow for vendors following health standards set by the Ministry of Education, to ply their trade in and outside of schools. People would be allowed to sell food and conduct other micro businesses at their homes.
The minister said under the legislation, the Ministry of Agriculture holds responsibility for all public markets, except fisheries markets, and will preside over wayside and roadside vending, while the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy will continue to preside over fish markets. The Ministry of Environment will take charge of vending at parks, beaches and the Esplanade, while the Ministry of Transport will preside over vending on the highways.
Symmonds said provisions have also been made for fishermen selling fish to vendors.
According to the minister, the legislation will enhance the vending sector which is occupied by the working class and facilitate business for micro players by giving them a body of rights related to their respective business, governance structure and an unprecedented level of empowerment.
“What we have done therefore Sir, is to carve out certain practices in Barbados which are cultural realities that we do not want to force out of existence, cultural realities that we want to continue to support and to encourage, which really can only be exceptionally onerous if we sought to overly formalize them,” he said.