A meeting with the mercantile community on Friday to discuss the revamping of the price control regime; issues related to the licensing of goods and business facilitation, as well as a way forward for the sector, has been described as beneficial by Minister of Commerce, Donville Inniss.
The meeting was attended by key representatives from the food and beverage industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Savings Plus, Popular Discounts, SBI Distribution, Chickmont, the Barbados Manufacturing Association, the Barbados Agricultural Society, the Customs and Excise Department, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Barbados Association of Retired Persons.
Minister Inniss told those gathered at his Reef Road office that it was a prime opportunity for them as entrepreneurs to discuss any issues regarding the work of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Stating that the meeting flowed from an earlier internal discussion, Mr. Inniss noted that it was realised that there was still a price control regime in Barbados, [and] also an import licensing regime which is administered out of the Department of Commerce.
He said: ??????We also have that department that is responsible for standards ??? administering aspects of our standards regime where we can go into your premises and ensure that the items that you have available for consumers do meet the standards as set by the national standards facilities???the overarching issue for us is how do we deliver well from the regulatory perspectives of government, and ensure that customers get the best quality items at the best price.
???These are not matters that we can sit here in the realms of the public service and decide on or dictate by ourselves???.I believe in consensus, I believe in hearing from you the relevant stakeholders who are on the frontline???the ones that are importing and fixing the prices. We really do not have a consumer body in this country per se, although it is the duty of the state to look out for consumers as well, but I also subscribe to the view that in a perfectly competitive environment that is reasonably well-regulated the consumer will get the best prices,??? he continued.
The Minister was also of the opinion that we must strive towards a situation where the state became involved in consumer matters only when absolutely necessary.