Consumer protection legislation coming

Walter has stressed the importance of consumer protection
Walter has stressed the importance of consumer protection

In short order, the absence of Consumer Protection Legislation in Dominica will be a thing of the past, Director of Trade Matthan Walter has said.

Late last week experts from the CARICOM Secretariat and stakeholders from the Private sector engaged for a one day consultation on the Consumer Protection Bill of 2015 at the Garraway Hotel.

According to Walter the absence of such legislation has its downside.

“The lack of Consumer Protection Legislation has its ill effects; this needs to be corrected and exigently so,” he said at the opening of the consultation. “In the absence of the required legislation this Ministry has been challenged with complaints ranging from warranties, substandard goods, false/misleading advertisements and non-refunds on returnable items.”

He continued, “Nevertheless, a new era is being born and in the short-term the landscape for consumer protection will be changed by the enactment of the Consumer Protection Bill into law. This Bill at this stage is very comprehensive and appears, de jure, to house provisions tailored to suit and address almost every possibility and eventuality.”

Some of the areas that the Bill will address include: the establishment of a Consumer Affairs Commission, Consumer Rights, Duties of Suppliers, Unfair Trading Practices, Consumer Safety, Recall of Goods, and Distance Selling, the establishment of a Rapid Alert System and Consumer Agreements, among others.

“The signs that are placed on business places with the words, “No Refund” may soon be a thing of the past,” Walter stated.

The journey to this Bill began before 2008 with a CARICOM-harmonized Draft Bill, which has over the years been tweaked, amended and brackets removed to ensure that the end product is a refined one that, he explained, would allow for ownership by both the Private and Public sector.

“Our thrust as a member state of CARICOM to respect our obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the provisions of services and most paramount to ensure protection of life, health and safety of consumers has led us to this moment,” he noted.

Walter mentioned further that in the interim for establishing the legal framework for consumer protection bill, the Division of Trade was divided into Units with one of those Units’ tasked with the job of overseeing the realization of a secure and robust Consumer Protection Framework and regime on the island.

He took the opportunity to thank the business places who were approached to remedy or redress complaints lodged by aggrieved consumers, and because of this they have been “very successful” in redressing these complaints.

Walter noted that the ground work for the establishment of a Consumer NGO to champion the rights of consumers is underway.

The forum was geared at, not only for allowing the private sector an opportunity to more intimately understand the provisions of the draft Consumer Protection Bill, but to enable a more vivid understanding of the underlying policy.

Meantime the Senior Legal Officer, Drafting from the CARICOM Secretariat, Melanie Ffrench congratulated Dominica on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat for their “proactive approach” to consumer protection.

She said they will take away the inputs from the stakeholders as they have done in the other CARICOM member states to produce the best Bill possible that suits the needs of the consumers and also recognizes the responsibilities that are owed to the consumer by suppliers.

Next the bill will be forwarded with specific recommendations to the Dominica Manufacturers Association (DMA), the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC), among others, for one month to discuss and submit a comprehensive response to the Ministry of Trade.

Following this the draft bill will be placed on the Government’s website for the wider public’s feedback.

A series of town hall meetings will also take place.

“We will try to ensure that prior to this bill arriving on the doorsteps of cabinet, or in parliament, that the public will be fully sensitized and we would have engaged as many comments as possible and also benefit from the finalization of the CARICOM model right here in the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Walter said.

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16 Comments

  1. Realist
    July 22, 2015

    Massive expensive bureaucracy ! Under E O Leblanc, Patrick John, and the Interim Governments there was a Ministry of Industry, Trade, Tourism and Consumer Protection which administered the Laws on price control, and the protection of local fledgling industries from “dumping”. Now we have plenty Ministeries and plenty talk..

  2. The Real Facts - ON
    July 21, 2015

    You know the saying, “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money refunded.”
    This should be the new logo of all Dominican businesses especially merchants. :lol: :lol: :lol:

  3. The Real Facts - ON
    July 21, 2015

    Minister, you have your work cut-out for you.
    This legislation should also apply to those who repair refrigerators, TV;s etc., if they soon become inoperable. Repairs may fall under a different category and department. Nevertheless, ensure that these are included.
    When this Bill is passed, ensure that everyone who conducts business in D/ca is fully aware of it. It also includes dressmakers, tailors, shoemakers, etc., every enterprise that conducts business with consumers.
    Dominican consumers will be elated and shop with confidence that should an item they purchase become inoperable they could receive their hard-earned money back with no arguments.
    There are regulations after consumer purchase items that they must be used for what they are intended for and not tampered with. Otherwise they will have forfeited their refund.
    Refund on items are valid within a certain period, based on the item and cost. These must be made clear to consumers.

  4. The Real Facts - ON
    July 21, 2015

    This is excellent news for D/ca’s consumers. They have suffered too long with poor quality goods, paying exorbitantly for them and not being able to receive a refund.
    Minister, please do not delay. Make it within a few months; not a year or years.
    I have read on DNO about the plight of a few consumers who bought items which when used disintegrated and they were unable to receive a refund.
    A D/can friend informed me of a product she bought for an exorbitant sum of money which did not last; not even a year.
    I also heard that some people purchase refurbished items abroad, as in Florida, at a low cost and sell them at a much higher cost. These soon conk out.
    Customers must get workable items. If within a certain period they fail to operate, they should be able to demand a refund.
    You want consumers’ money? Be fair to them. Consumers should have a right to know how old those items are and if they are second-hand items. Some of them may be more than second-hand.

  5. July 21, 2015

    It was time as i mentioned long ago,there is no reason a chinese should sell an ironing board to someone and next day that board can’t stand on it’s legs,fake medicin in shops is a gov’t issue ,they are responsible for the public’s health,these medicins come in the country through the harbour ,why is it they are not confiscated,cereals are sold out with maggots or worns and the shop refuses to take it back,all the fake goods in shops ,this must stop because it is the poor people who cannot travel buying all this rubbish..

  6. UDOHREADYET
    July 21, 2015

    that’s a good move… it will set the tone for more transparent financial environment allowing for secure investments and business transactions into the Dominica economy long term. The protection should not just be retail or individual focused but a broad approach should be taken in order to offer protections across the board for all those engaging in financial dealings with Dominicans.

  7. i must speak
    July 21, 2015

    this is great news!!!!!!!!!!!! :-D

  8. Shaka zulu
    July 21, 2015

    Mr. Director with all the countries with have mutual and diplomatic relations, why are you not visiting to try and establish markets for our goods their. We don’t sell anything to Venezuela and missed to opportunity to be their main supplier of toilet paper, we don’t sell anything to Morocco, china,, Russia, Malaysia, and the list goes on. OK I take that back we export passports. Forget what I said earlier. Is either two things to generate revenue passports or tax. Not sure why there is a director of trade.

  9. %
    July 21, 2015

    If there is one Caricom country that needs consumer protection laws, it is Dominica. The reason is not just because it is mismanaged and corrupt, SO THE WEALTH OF THE COUNTRY DOES NOT TRICKLE DOWN,but it is also replete with poor people who can’t make ends meet.
    Caveat emptor(let the buyer beware),some will argue, should have its way in a free market system, but the Dominica of today has vendors who don’t
    give receipts, who don’t accept return goods, who fight the consumer with broom sticks,who can call on ministers of government to fight you on their behalf,etc etc. It is shameful that a government feeding on the backs of the poor, have ignored having consumer protection for so long..!!
    SHAMEFUL INDEED!!!!!!
    Did I see obesity somewhere?

    • Fedup
      July 21, 2015

      Trusrt you to insert your dirty, hateful politics into such an important discussion. Did someone say peabrain mentality???

      • %
        July 21, 2015

        @Fedup Your darn fool. Where is your own input? YOU ARE MPTY!!! Idiots like you are Dominicas worse enemy.You are being a doggone slave and sycophant to your slave masters. I AM AN INDEPENDENT PERSON!

  10. Just Me
    July 21, 2015

    Hooray!!!!!

  11. good job
    July 21, 2015

    No Refund all you will soon give people back their money doh. :lol: Especially those Chinese. They always quick to say No Refund or No exchange when something is either too small or too big or is given to you broken. All those expensive Boutiques that in Roseau that have in big and bold No Refund, will now start treating customers right because is us that bringing money to your pockets and making you have a life.

    • The Real Facts - ON
      July 21, 2015

      Consumers will have to be careful what they purchase. They will have to scrutinize the items closely to ensure they are in good condition. If it is something beyond their control, they should be given the option to get a refund or another similar product.

  12. NKRUMAH KWAME
    July 21, 2015

    It is said generally “better late than never”, but by gower! This started since 2008? We shall all be consumed by poor quality before this piece of legislation becomes a reality!
    HOTEP!

  13. wowzers
    July 21, 2015

    LONG overdue.

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