Barbados along with the rest of the world celebrated World Consumer Rights Day, under the theme Trusted Smart Products.
The Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce held a week of activities to highlight consumer rights and responsibilities, culminating with an outreach programme today, Friday, March 15, at National Heroes Square, The City.
Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), Bertram Johnson stated: “Today, we are celebrating World Consumers’ Day. Globally, March 15 is recognized as the day where all persons celebrate consumers’ day and today the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce joins in that arrangement to celebrate and to make persons aware of their rights and responsibilities as consumers.”
While pointing out that the Ministry has several responsibilities, Mr. Johnson said: “The ministry has a dual responsibility; not only do we facilitate commerce in Barbados, but we also ensure that the standards that are set by the Barbados National Standards Institution are enforced…. We also play the role of an enforcement regime.
“We are also a department responsible for import licences under the Miscellaneous Control Act; we have a Weights and Measures Section which does verification of gas pumps at the various gas stations, so that we ensure you are getting the right amount of gas that you are paying for…and a Trade Standards Section.”
The Director of DCCA noted that within the Trade Standards Section, trade inspectors go from business to business ensuring that the requisite standards and labelling are in place. The most common infraction encountered was that of foreign language labelling, with products originating out of Latin America.
Mr. Johnson stressed that we are an open market and products imported from countries where English is not the first language, must have their labelling either in English, or have dual labelling.
He said: “The display panel must be in English, giving basic information such as what is the product, origin of manufacturer, content of product, expiry date, and the font size must be of a certain size.” This, he added, was important because of the health implications that could arise as a result of being unaware of what is in the product, and therefore contributing to an allergic reaction.
This year’s theme sought to bring awareness to what consumers want and need from a connected world, and how important it is to set standards for the development of digital products and services from smartphones to wearable fitness trackers, to voice-activated assistants and smart TVs, as many of the products in use are increasingly becoming connected by default.
The day’s activities saw Ministry personnel interacting with the public through distribution of pamphlets, brochures, pens and keyrings, and answering questions from persons visiting the booth. There was also a question and answer competition where students and members of the public participated, and were awarded cash prizes, fast chargers, umbrellas and water bottles.