Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland and ministry officials, examine some of the produce on sale at Pricesmart while on tour last Friday. Mr Sutherland was accompanied by Pricesmart Club Manager, Chester Keller. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is more than a monitoring department that checks for breaches; it is also there to enhance commercial activity.

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, emphasized this recently, as he highlighted the role of the DCCA during a meeting with officials of the ministry and senior management of Pricesmart Inc., Lodge Hill, St. Michael.

He stated: “My ministry through the Department of Commerce has the responsibility of monitoring commercial activity within the retail sector…and also to create an environment for the betterment of both the retailers and consumers….  So, we have a duty not just to retailers, but also to the people of this country to ensure that everything is done equitably and fairly for both parties.”

Asserting Pricesmart Inc. was here to stay, Club Manager, Chester Keller, spoke of some of the challenges impacting its operations, which included duties, bookings with customs for clearance of containers, local produce retailers being unable to meet the demand and sick leave.

Minister Sutherland assured Pricesmart’s senior management that government was transitioning to a digitized business model, which would enhance efficiency with regards to customs procedures and relevant documentation needed from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health for clearance of containers.

Ministry officials noted that Pricesmart Inc. was a key player within the sector and had proven to be cooperative, compliant and quick to address issues highlighted by trade inspectors.  The company was also commended for holding strain in the current economic environment by not laying off staff.

The Commerce Minister, however, encouraged Mr. Keller to utilize more local vendors as a “means to boost commercial activity to increase Gross Domestic Product”, and noted this would also create a positive trickle-down effect within the economy.

Management was also encouraged to have a disaster risk business continuity model, that is a hurricane preparedness plan, so Pricesmart and Barbados would be resilient in the event of a natural disaster.

Pricesmart Inc. is located in 13 countries, with 41 locations across Central America and the Caribbean. It has been in operation in Barbados for 17 years, and employs approximately 200 employees.

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