BVI News

Job-loss after hurricanes lead to upsurge in illegal businesses

Photo credit: BVI News

A number of illegal and unregistered businesses have started to spring up across the British Virgin Islands.

Junior Minister with responsibility for Trade, Marlon Penn said these illegal businesses are mostly being run by persons who lost their jobs after the hurricanes.

Though noting that operating illegitimate businesses can threaten the health and safety of residents and visitors, Penn said government will not be shutting down these businesses.

“Coming out of Irma, persons have lost jobs and persons are finding a way to earn a living and we have to be sympathetic to that.”

“We have to find a way to work together, collaborate, and try to get persons to do things the structural way to help them grow. From this little [business] idea that they want to start just to survive, could end up being one of the bigger, better businesses in our territory,” Penn reasoned.

Meanwhile, Director of Trade, Karia Christopher has described the emergence of illegal businesses as a big issue.

She said the Department of Trade plans to increase its team of inspectors to find and educate these ‘underground’ businessmen and women.

“The person who is in charge of the inspection right now has a great rapport with the underground persons here and so the first thing is not to go and attack them. We are very cognizant of that fact. Its all about not invoking fear into these people,” Christopher said.

“I hope that we will not have to implement drastic measures without first educating the public and then we await directions from the policymakers.”

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15 Comments

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  1. Watcher says:

    Entrepreneurship flourishes when governments keep their noses out.

  2. Oh Come on says:

    Illegal and unregistered Businesses that threaten the health of visitors and residents??? Really?? If the government lay back on these situations they may highly lose control and cause havoc and problems in the best future. Fix it!!

  3. Quiet Storm says:

    This is a catch 22 situation. Every resident in the workforce needs a job to take care of themselves and their families. In many cases, Hurricane Irma and Maria short circuit the ability to do so. Impacted employees did what comes naturallly. They look for and take advantage of opprtunities to eek out a living albeit not in conformity with the law.

    Additionally, the illegal businesses are competing with legal businesses without having to meet the regulatory requirements. They may not be meeting health and safety requirements and violating the law. But it is a matter of what is more acceptable and comfortable. Would committing violent and property crimes be preferable. No. Bring them into the fold and let the flower bloom.

    • Gordaguy2 says:

      What do you classify as an illegal business? No such thing – Seems to me any one that has a BBQ would fall into that category.

      • Quiet Storm says:

        To protect public health and safety, businesses that require certification, licensing, registration………etc. Failure to enforce rules, exposed the public to avoidable harm. On the other hand, I understand the need to survive, to make a living. It requires leadership to address this problem. Looking the other way is a short term political move. But the long-term look is to protect the public. The broken window theory, if small things are ignored, they may morphed into major issues.

  4. Virgin Islander says:

    Just today I saw this same article on another news site and was wondering if it would be on here. There is a saying that goes “It is easier to get pardon than permission”. When those responsible for Trade start to act objectively then no one will have to resort to having illegal trade. Just imagine two individuals both Virgin Islanders applied for same trade license, same circumstances and because one was a friend of the person who approves or denies licences, theirs was approved and the other denied. In the name of Jesus is this justice? talk about white collar crime? Does someone have to be a friend of someone in authority to get justice? Then when you bring the issue to the representatives, all they tell you is “They looking into it” But what goes around, comes around.

  5. Concerned says:

    Let the government work on the infrastucture, transparency and audits, and leave the small enterpreneur alone! Sewers, water, roads and underground elecricity should rule the day, not a damned airport expansion and kill the small business person.

  6. WTF says:

    What about some government departments that send home employees at this very critical time. Rents to pay, mouths to feed and no regards for the future well being of their employees. People are going through so much, and for human beings to put additional pressure on their employees at this time, that they might resort to running illegal businesses, or other criminal activities is reprehensible. Or maybe they are not human. Marlon thank you for having a heart, eventhoug I don’t condone lawlessness, I applaud you for being human. You have stepped outside of yourself to give support for people who are not necessarily bad, but trying to survive. You might be criticize for the stand you took, but don’t worry about the critics. They might find themselves in a position one day and need someone to step up for them. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some Government employees send themselves home, and have been sending themselves home for years unnoticed (or not) . Therefore, I applaud the Government for taking steps to get rid of “persons who don’t want to work” or those “who don’t fit” (if that is actually happening). Its a serious concern within the Government where persons have been “misbehaving badly” for some time and the Government just pushing them around from Department to Department, (a behaviour that is appalling to me and many others) – afraid to take disciplinary/corrective measures. If in fact they are getting rid of liabilities/baggage, then perfect! What better time than now? If they don’t make these though decisions, then hardworking employees will be eventually sent home (in haste). I have seen this done recently with a temporary (non-local) worker – who was one of the better employees the Department had. The individual was sent home simply because of “status” and the Department’s attempt to “cut cost” (smh). The sad truth is, post the hurricanes,”the bad egg employees” are continuing to do wrong and operate without care and still nothing is being done. I am sick of top managers/supervisors condoning wrong. NOW is the time to clean up these Departments. Now is the time to get rid of those individuals whose files reflect mountains of misconduct and still in 2018 they have not changed. Now is the time to get rid of the ones who have been showing up when they want pre and post Irma and for whatever reason they are still being paid although time sheets were submitted with 0 hours (get it together HR). Now is the time post Irma or not – struggling or not; if these individuals who I refer to really what their jobs they would act like they do. Its about time we stop condoning wrong.

  7. Red Tape Gyal says:

    Too much farourtisim and BS in Trade. Under qualified or no qualifications are given trade licenses for Works they are not capable of doing – I.e. construction is on sector. All the makeup in the world cannot hide the ungliness beneath. Like others since I am not one of her favorites or in the ‘gang’ then I’ll what I got to do to feed and keep my family safe and secure. What about the Health risks to the consumers/customers that have to endure unhealthy businesses that are open. Talk dat….inspect those…????

  8. richgdgy says:

    The BVI government wants to do just what obama did to the USA.Get a businessman like the US and see what happens!

  9. Concerned says:

    Some of the businesses would not be on the streets if commercial space was available and affordable. It’s ridiculous what prices are wanted for commercial spaces. Landords need to work with businesses that want to work “Legally”.

  10. Helpless says:

    Who do we turn to when our boss lays us off and claim they don’t have money to pay us off, yet they’re spending money left and right to buy cars, jeep and trucks?? Some business owners are using IRMA as an excuse to do their dirty deeds and we all know the LABOUR department is practically useless.

  11. Interested says:

    They must just make sure that people health and welfare are not jeopardized by allowing so called illegal businesses to thrive and prosper,Is is fair for some to have to operate within the confines of the law and some don’t?.why then should anyone bother to seek the relevant licenses for any business at all ?

  12. Dragon says:

    Still seems unfair that some are having to pay for trade licences, rent, electricity and get food handlets cert. while other “illegal operaters “ are allowed to do whatever they want.

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