Legislators were at the time debating the Business Licensing Act, 2020 in the House of Assembly (HOA).
“You cannot allow businesses to come into your territory and destroy the economic climate, the economic foundation of your country because of their purchasing power. We have to guard against that type of behaviour, that kind of predatory type behaviour,“ Penn argued.
He noted that the new Act seeks to address such behaviour.
Penn said businesses that legitimately want to create jobs and opportunities and are socially responsible are welcome in the territory.
However, he said businesses whose only goal is to monopolize the economy, undermine small franchises, and put others out of business present an issue.
“No, no, Premier. That would not happen under my watch. I would continue to speak loudly about it,” Penn said.
Penn, who is also the Eighth District Representative, suggested that his concerns are not about ‘protectionism’ but rather about the preservation of small businesses.
And while sounding an alarm about what he called the “Walmart effect“, Penn said the BVI has strived and developed because of the efforts of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in the territory.
Penn stated that companies which have the purchasing power that is well beyond the BVI’s GDP and annual budget, should not be allowed to come into the territory, set up shop and do as they please.
Such companies undercut small and medium-sized businesses, removing the ability for them to compete and do business within the territory, he said.
According to Penn, some of that same behaviour is happening right now in the territory.