(CNS): Commerce Minister Joey Hew has said that changes to the trade and business licensing regime under a new amendment bill will help cut red tape and encourage more local people to become entrepreneurs. The amendments to the law were steered through the Legislative Assembly last week with broad support, though Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller raised concerns that government is not monitoring the need for the licences it grants, which leads to excessive numbers of small businesses competing in some sectors, undermining their ability to make a living.
Presenting the bill to parliament, Hew said the goal was to address some of the concerns from the business community, remove unnecessary document requirements, simplify procedures, allow departments to share information and exempt locals from needing police clearance except under certain circumstances.
He said it that new applicants will not need to demonstrate compliance with health insurance, pension and labour laws, but businesses renewing licences must be compliant with those requirements before their licence can be renewed.
Hew said the changes were “intended to create a more business-friendly environment” to further encourage entrepreneurs, improve the odds of success for small business. and help rather than hinder growth. The minister said the government recognised that small businesses are drivers of economic growth and job creation.
He pointed that the original overhaul of the legislation during the last administration, policy changes and fee reduction for small and micro business had resulted in tangible benefits, with thousands of Caymanians starting new small businesses and wider renewed business confidence. Hew said small businesses were thriving and were the life blood of the domestic economy and vital to prosperity.
He also announced plans to create a small business centre, which would be a one-stop shop to boost the level of support for small traders offering small professional business counselling, training and access to funding. Hew also revealed that his ministry was reviving the National Investment Bureau.
Before the bill was passed the opposition leader raised concerns over the failure to monitor the number of licences being given to the same type of businesses over and over, reducing the ability of any of them to make a living. Miller said that the theory of increasing the population to feed existing businesses was flawed, and pointed to the growth in larger conglomerates that are controlling some business sectors, pushing small firms out of business as a result of the continued absence of any kind of fair trade regime.
See the amendment bill here and see the debate in the LA on the law on CIGTV below at 50:18: