PHILIPSBURG–Music Man Managing Director Jai Purswani is displeased with the timing of a control on his establishment by Economic Affairs Inspectors mid-morning Friday in the middle of one of the busiest days for businesses – Black Friday
He said the inspectors had showed up at his establishment during the Black Friday rush, when about 50 customers were in his establishment, and requested to see his business licence, St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) registration and identification, amongst other things.
In an invited comment, Ministry of Tourism Economic Affairs Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) Inspectorate head Lucien Wilson said Friday’s control was part of an ongoing clampdown on certain things the inspectorate has been addressing.
“Most people don’t like to be controlled and in that aspect it won’t ever be a good time for them, but in this case it was an electronic store that had merchandise displayed, and that had to be addressed,” he said. “The total control lasted about three hours so it’s not reasonable to say that we hampered business. The control on each business would have been minutes. It’s the holiday season and we have our jobs to do to ensure that businesses comply with the law.”
Purswani told The Daily Herald that he has been in business for several decades in St. Maarten and while he has no issue with controls, he wonders why controllers chose one of the busiest days of the year to conduct one. Purswani said he had cooperated with the three controllers. As the store had been full of customers, he escorted them outside to his other establishment and provided the documents. “I had to go out with them with the documents. I won’t do this in front of my clients,” he said.
Purswani said he also had been told to remove from in front of his establishment some boxes of items that he had on sale for Black Friday. He was told that this is not allowed. He said his establishment had been severely damaged during Hurricane Irma, and he had temporarily placed the items outside so that when customers visited for the Black Friday sale it would be easier for them to get the items that they purchased. “I was doing this at my own risk,” he said.
When he asked the controllers about the timing of the controls, the inspectors told him their boss had sent them to conduct the controls.
“What is bothering me is that they are asking for business licence and Chamber of Commerce Registration when there are 50 clients in the store. It is unfair. But they said they had orders to do it,” he said. “This cannot happen in places like the US on a Black Friday.”
He said in all his decades operating in St. Maarten, he never had been subjected to a control on Black Friday. He said the control should have been done at a more appropriate time and authorities should have been more conscious of this and considerate, particularly given the devastation to the business community during Irma.
Wilson said the exercise was part of a general control of businesses to ensure that they have the right documentation such as business licences, etc. More than 25 businesses on Front and Back Streets were controlled during a three-hour period.
Wilson said all the businesses were in compliance with the exception of an electronic store that had its merchandise out on the sidewalk, which he said is not allowed. “We have been tackling this for a few weeks now and we had gotten reports that retailers are displaying merchandise on the street, sometimes directly outside their business or across the street. The merchandise has to be in-store or on their property, but it should not hinder pedestrians.”
He said also that the Inspectorate does its utmost to not disrupt business operations. Inspectors ask to speak to managers and do not speak to customers or salespersons. “We talk to the manager and deal with that person and we do not engage with customers, specifically so as to not disrupt operations. I don’t agree that this would have any negative impact on the business if we discuss with the manager and not the sales staff,” he said.
Wilson said the Inspectorate will continue with its controls. He said having one’s business licence displayed publicly minimises the amount of interaction inspectors would have with businesspersons.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71254-25-front-back-street-stores-controlled-on-black-friday