Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 04, 2016 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Trade in conjunction with the Consumer Affairs Department is facilitating a three day training exercise where the Consumer Affairs officials and relevant stakeholders will be exposed to information which will ultimately lead to the harmonization of Consumer Affairs procedures and legislation within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
This training exercise is one within a series of in country missions being conducted across the region entitled “Consultancy to Strengthen the CSME Regulatory and Market Regimes” under the tenth European Development Fund (EDF) programme.
Director of Consumer Affairs, Paul Queely, stated that the overall focus of the consultancy will “hone in on three key areas including the intra CSME rights of establishment regime, the strengthening of enforcement and administrative competence for addressing anticompetitive business practices and enhancing the intra CSME cooperation and coordinating systems to regulate and enforce consumer protection protocol.”
“Here in the Caribbean region international trade plays a vital role which allows citizens of each territory to purchase modern day durable items such as household appliances, furniture and countless others,” said Mr. Queely. He added that international trade, while it might have its positive attributes, it also has its downfalls that may leave the citizens of small countries vulnerable to purchasing items which may be poorly produced and may cause serious injury or even death.
“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes this opportunity to stimulate economic activity through the day-to-day transactions of purchases and provides an enabling environment to allow our businesses to be profitable,” said the Consumer Affairs Director. “However, this profitability must not come at a compromise to the safety or wellbeing of our citizens. In light of this, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is delighted to be benefiting from this in country mission which will build human capacity for consumer affairs officials to better be able to handle critical situations which may arise daily.”
Facilitator of workshop, Massimiliano Gangi, stated that the focus of the first two days will be consumer protection and mentioned that the new Consumer Affairs Model Bill “will establish an independent Consumer Affairs Commission which would have a strong enforcement rules.”
“[It will have the power] to punish suppliers that do not comply with legislation,” said Mr. Gangi. “So this training is an important step forward for consumer protection legislation in the area because so far, even though many CARICOM member states have adopted consumer protection legislation with departments, it did not have really strong enforcement power. They rely very much moral persuasion, that is, convincing suppliers to comply with the law.”
Mr. Gangi said that with this new version of the Model Bill, the Consumer Affairs Commission will have power to reprimand suppliers that deliberately and repeatedly violate the law.
Topics to be covered over the next three days include the important changes which have taken place in the market in all countries in the last 20 years which have led to the necessity of consumer protection laws and rules and what is the contribution of economic analysis to the design and enforcement of consumer protection and how consumer protection department agencies identify and assess. Also, what is consumer detriment in the market place and the type of harm which my come to the consumers and the different policy instruments that are available for consumer protection agencies and departments in order to address market failures.