Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 17, 2016 (SKNIS): On this week’s edition of Working for You, it was revealed by Vincent Fough, Consumer Affairs Officer, that the Consumer Affairs Act 2003 is being repealed to address consumers’ concerns about labels written in foreign languages and to institute other protection issues.
Mr. Fough said that all supermarkets have been informed that their labels should have on English, even if there are other languages, because the official language in St. Kitts and Nevis is English. They have also been asked to remove items in violation of this from the shelves.
The consumer affairs officer said that the new Bill will fall in line with the CARICOM Protection Consumer Protection Bill. He explained that it stems from the Treaty of Chaguaramas where member states have to follow Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) contractual arrangements.
“We have already met with the consultants and it (the Bill) is in place,” said Mr. Fough. “It’s just a matter to turn it over to the Minister to take it to Cabinet, then it will be tabled and put into effect.”
Mr. Fough explained that the former Consumer Affairs Act did not have a stipulation where the non-compliant would be charged or incarcerated. The new Bill outlines that once a business is in breach of contract, the business will have to pay a fine or the owner sent to jail. Both penalties may apply in some cases.
He said that various companies were asked to translate and label the items accordingly. Ingredients, instructions of use and name of product were all provided. However, companies still import products that are strictly in a foreign language because of this arrangement.
“No product with all foreign language should be on the shelf,” he reiterated. “The new Bill that will be put in place will also address that. It will be supported by the Department of Health Act as well as the Bureau of Standards.
Mr. Fough stated that the Bureau is also repealing its Act to address the same issue, adding that all departments have to collaborate.
“For us to be a force out there to protect consumers, we all have to come together as one and each Act is supposed to support the other.”