The Trade and Consumer Affairs Department advises the public to be more vigilant when shopping

(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- On the 25th March, 2015 the Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris addressed the general public. In his address he declared an end to the Value Added Tax on Food, Medicine and Funeral expenses effective as of April 7th, 2015. In light of this elated announcement, people can now look towards a source of economic relief for them and their families.

There is no doubt that the Value Added Tax placed a strain on our pockets, to the point where some people were forced to look for other alternatives to maintain their households. It is apparent that in a small country such as ours, we strive heavily on the partnerships amongst Businesses, Government and Consumers in order to prosper.

In moving forward we must find ways of protecting ourselves not just as citizens but as Consumers. We are all Consumers and part of our responsibility is to become educated on our rights and obligations. We have to know how to safeguard ourselves and our families from unfair trade and practices. Knowing your rights is of key importance because with this, comes empowerment.

We have noticed and have had complaints of fraudulent acts and misconduct of some businesses here in Nevis. We are urging the public to be more vigilant when shopping around for goods and services. If you are unsure about a specific product or service you should ask questions, don’t be lured to act on impulse. Some businesses can be deceitful in their business tactics to gain a profit. They might even try ways of profiting off of the reintroduction of NO VAT by hiking up the prices of their goods and services. Remember you have the right to clear and accurate information so that you can make informed choices.

When shopping you should:
1. Make a shopping list
2. Compare prices and shop around for deals
3. Check receipts thoroughly before leaving checkout counter
4. Save your receipts in case of any discrepancy
5. For large items get an expert opinion
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
7. Remember “Customers have rights”

Even though we at the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs currently don’t have the authority to control prices, we have a right to monitor and inform you. We also have a right to investigate on the mark-up of these prices from the point of entry. This information is also public records and can be displayed for public viewing.

We need to be fair in our everyday practices especially when it comes to the relationship between businesses and consumers. Remember the survival of any business lies upon consumers and whether they are satisfied. So, let us work together, be fair to each other and continue to strive towards uplifting our country. A simple act of kindness goes a long way.

The Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs is here to assist you, educate you and help empower you. We plan on continuing to fulfil our obligations by updating you regularly on what’s going on in the community as it regards to goods and services.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at 469-5521 ext. 2016 if you have any questions or concerns.

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