Over $200,000 to be spent on consumer protection

Mathan Walter
Walter said some the money will be used to educate the public on consumer protection

In the wake of World Consumer Rights Day on Tuesday, March 16, 2016, Director of Trade, Mathan Walter, has revealed that a grant of US$222,843 has been received from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), to be put toward consumer protection and sensitization.

He told DNO that the funds will be put towards the continued drafting of a Consumer Protection Bill, as well as consumer protection communication strategies

“…that is going to ensure that not only do we have a communication strategy to be able to promote consumer-related issues, but that the Consumer Protection Bill would be passed—or would be ready to be passed—in Parliament… Second area is in relation to the topical discussion this time around for World Consumer Rights Day…” he explained during an interview on Friday.

The money, he stated, would also be used for the training of people within the Ministry of Trade’s Consumer Affairs Unit, the creation of a non-government organization to champion consumer rights, and continued communication with the public, to “help consumers make informed decisions.

This year, the Ministry facilitated public sensitization on “hidden danger” in the use of antibiotics and its impact on human life, in keeping with the theme of World Consumer Rights Day this year—‘Antibiotics Off the Menu’.

“In a general sense, what it really speaks to is the use of antibiotics in animal feeds, for example, and the overdose as it relates to antibiotics in the animals that are reared that we eat… so when we, as human beings, eat that meat, then what happens to us is that little by little, it begins to contaminate us,” Walter said.

Walter continued, “And what happens is that because the antibiotics used in animals, and those in humans are similar or the same, you find that when we now fall sick, and we use those antibiotics, our body begins to become resistant to them.”

He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture has taken its own steps in protecting Dominicans from being affected by the antibiotics present in livestock today, both locally and internationally.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has put in place its own internal policies of how to deal with that, to mitigate that kind of situation becoming a problem in Dominica. They are making sure that they know which places suffer a lot from animals being given a lot of that type of antibiotics in feed; so, they try to mitigate against that meat coming in,” he said.

“Even locally now, when animals are medicated if they are sick, they make sure that there is a period of time after medication before the animal is reintroduced into the market for sale. So, by that period of time, the antibiotics would have passed off,” he explained, pointing out that this measure “would minimize the impact that it may possibly have on the future health of Dominican citizens.”

Walter stated that there have been discussions on the use of animal feed which does not contain antibiotics, but instead, is rich with certain properties which help to boost the animals’ immune systems, and help them naturally fight disease.

Meantime he said he hopes to finalize a long-anticipated Consumer Protection Bill which is soon to come. He said the journey to this Bill began before 2008 with a “CARICOM-harmonized” Draft Bill, which been tweaked and amended over the years.

“We need to finalize the bill. I mean, a lot of work has been done on it… We started using a model Consumer Protection Bill from CARICOM—A CARICOM harmonized bill… to ensure that our laws are as harmonized as possible across the entire region, because we are going to share the same common market, the same common economic space… did some tweaks and change because you have to end with a bill that embraces Dominica’s unique circumstances,” Walter noted.

Stakeholders and people from both the public and private sector have been sensitized on the Bill, and allowed to make suggestions.

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10 Comments

  1. R.Linton
    March 22, 2016

    There you Go Mathan…It was time.
    Please lets have follow up action.

  2. Face the Facts
    March 21, 2016

    First things first. Do not try to do everything all at once and fill the heads of the people with all this.
    Is it now almost two years since this consumer protection was being drafted?
    Consumer rights must first be protected.
    First you must draft the Bill for Consumer Protection Rights and then Pass it After this is done then proceed to these other matters.

  3. March 21, 2016

    If you talk about consumer protection please don’t forget the poor people who cannot travel to buy what ever they want overseas ,then buy from the Chinese and less than a week the item is damaged>Not due to any accident but due to very poor quality,,,They need to keep their receipt and take it back to the shop.A minimum guarantee of a year should be give to consumers .I saw a poster written in a Chinese shop which is situated on the third road from the harbour going up towards the old market ,stating that they do not accept any refund if an electrical appliance is not working but the buyer must but something else…this is against consumers policy..because when ever someone buys something that is not good from someone there is a lack of trust between the buyer and the seller..the seller should automatically refund the buyer..this has to stop ,someone with little to survive cannot afford to loose any money no matter the amount..

  4. UDOHREADYET
    March 21, 2016

    What about making it law for shop keepers and supermarkets and anyone selling perishable food products to put expiration dates o those perishable products. Enforce those dates and stop selling expired meat and imported to food people. Enforce contracts between service providers and their consumers so their is legal recourse and the consumer is protected when an issue arises.

  5. Shaka Zulu
    March 21, 2016

    The biggest lesson I learned after graduation from college is how much I do not know and will never know. I also learned that a great society is one that is able to use its resources wisely and everyone knows thier capabilities and strength. Having said this the director of trade should not try to explain things that he is not sure about because you never know who is reading. He has just mis-informed the public on the effects of anti biotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infection. Some of these antibiotics also get into our soil, water, and environment. This may cause bacteria to get resistance through mutation. When these new bugs infect us the current antibiotics may no longer be effective in treating infection in humans. It is the bacteria that builds resistance to the anti biotics. A little more research would help. The problem was because anti biotics is used to fatten animals quickly and not necessarily for disease fighting. It’s the overuse that’s a problem.

  6. Wheel again
    March 21, 2016

    This is long overdue. How many more years do we have to wait…..talk as per usual.

  7. labourite in ministry
    March 21, 2016

    fair enough consumer protection is great but we need price control mathan….

    price control….yes we have alot of factors controlling price like gas prices, location, freight , brand etc….but if that part of the minstry is null and void then wat…protectiung consumers against wat?….wat they purchase right?…so price control should come first…u cant have the same tray of eggs selling for 6 different prices in roseau….

    u cant have one supermarket saying is oil price or the manufacturere or the distrubutor or first thing they tell you is customs when they jolly well know..customs charges is on the value o the item…anyways….please implement price control measures to help us the consumers…

    • March 22, 2016

      That’s a dreadful idea. In any introductory course on economics one learns why price controls inexorably lead to shortages.

      • March 22, 2016

        That may be true, however, we are not looking at the factors of production here;
        they are talking about implementing stricter control on the vendors who decides to sell their goods how they feel like, with total disregard for distance, mileage and parishes

      • March 23, 2016

        What vendors cannot disregard is competition from other vendors. There’s a reason that a new car doesn’t cost one million dollars, if someone tried to sell them so, the next dealer would undercut them. This is really basic, basic stuff, and ignoring it leads to empty supermarkets and widespread misery — ask the Venezuelans.

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