CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMITTEE LAUNCHED

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Government has created a Consumer Protection Committee to further look after the interests of consumers. This was revealed today by Minister of  Consumer Affairs, Senator Lynette Eastmond during a breakfast meeting at the Savannah Hotel.

The Committee will be chaired by retired Permanent Secretary, Elsworth Young, and comprises: Reverend Von Watson; retired Nurse Vivian Garrett; and a member each of the Fair Trading Commission, the Office of Public Counsel, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Barbados Consumer Research Organisation Inc, the Barbados Consumers Association, the Barbados Association of Retired Persons, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).

The Ministry of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development will provide secretarial and other support to the Committee and will generally facilitate its activities.

Senator Lynette Eastmond noted that “it is not intended that this Committee undertake the work of consumer groups.  It will simply try to lend assistance to consumer groups as they seek to achieve their respective goals.

“I also expect that the committee would have an interest in developments at the CARICOM level and would also be in a position to give some advice in this area”.

The Consumer Protection Committee’s mandate is to: advise the Minister on consumer policy; serve as a sounding board for consumer policy initiatives being considered by Government;  identify issues which are impacting negatively on consumers for further research; monitor issues affecting the rights and responsibilities of consumers; promote the implementation of consumer education programmes; and, facilitate the cooperation between the public sector, the private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations, the trade union movement and civil society on consumer protection issues.

Senator Eastmond noted that members of the public had been expressing concern about the level of price increases being observed in relation to a range of products on the domestic market. She said the Ministry saw it as a matter of importance and requested and received a preliminary report.

“The report signaled that prices were rising at a faster rate than in previous years.  However, I felt very strongly that Government had to be deliberate and reasoned, not reactionary in its approach.

“I said then and I say now that we need to engage in serious analysis of issues, based on firm and reliable data, in order to formulate meaningful solutions to problems which are identified and to develop effective policies which can add real value to the quality of life of citizens,” she said.

The Commerce Minister further stated that: “positive action is needed now to help consumers to do more to help themselves.  I believe that some mechanism is needed to support and facilitate the efforts of existing consumer groups and to encourage consumers to get more involved in the process of looking after their rights”.

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