19 | ABR | 2019

Time to deal with informal trade

Mexico City
News Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Mexican daily
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OPINION: Street vendors are a natural consequence of the economic development of recent decades, which has fallen far short of reducing and eradicating poverty

Experts agree that the rise of informal trade is directly linked to the economic conditions that prevail in the country. Street vendors are a natural consequence of the economic development of recent decades, which has fallen far short of reducing and eradicating poverty.

Last week, experts consulted by this daily estimated that 2 million street vendors operate in Mexico City of which only 5% (a little over 100, 000) are listed in the authorities registry. Though many of them pay fees, very little do so to their correspondent district, while most of them pay weekly or monthly fees to leaders of street vendor organizations throughout Mexico City.

Entire families resort to informal trade as a means of sustenance. EL UNIVERSAL features the story of a family that has sold food in a street stand for three generations in its Wednesday’s edition. These people start their efforts in the first hours of the day to provide breakfast for work commuters for $20 or $30 pesos. They do not wish to be regarded as informal traders but rather they wish to be part of a legal registry that guarantees the continuity of their work without fear from being removed from their current sales point. They are simply making a claim for their right to work.

Informal trade does not have to be discredited, though it requires an efficient control on behalf of the authorities to prevent streets from being saturated and to determine specific areas for the operation of street vendors, while preventing informal trade leaders from swelling their pockets at the expense of the needs of street vendors who pay their “fees” without receiving any real benefits for their work.

Mexico City government ignores the problem and notes that each district is responsible for the regulation of informal trade and street vendors, while district representatives call for joint collaboration to address the issue. It is our opinion that jointly or individually, districts must begin to set order and that the accountability gap should not be a reason to delay addressing the problem.

No one is to be damaged in search for a solution to the problem: street vendors, neighbors nor the authority. Informal trade can still be part of a complement to the Mexican economy provided it is inscribed in a legality framework.
It is necessary to develop a scheme where these millions of people throughout the capital of the country, and in specific communities in the provinces, become and established workforce with labor rights and obligations for the good of the cities, themselves and their families.


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