As the island moves to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, is reminding Barbadians that there are challenges with smart technology, even for Government.
Speaking yesterday at the Ellerton Weslyan Holiness Church, Ellerton, St. George, at the launch of a Week of Activities to mark the day, he said: “Today, as our expectations and abilities have evolved, we have become constantly bombarded with a range of sophisticated goods and devices, such as smartphones, voice-assisted devices, wearable fitness trackers, smart TVs, connected cars etc., which allow the user the ability to connect, interact and share with other users and devices across the internet.
In fact, according to Consumers International, there are 23.1 billion smart products in the world, outnumbering people three to one.
“With the accelerated evolution of the technological environment, along with the rapid uptake of smart technologies and devices, the challenge exists for Governments and their subsidiary agencies, to be able to effectively maintain the balance between addressing emerging issues related to the digital economy, while at the same time protecting consumer interests.”
Mr. Sutherland, in acknowledging that his ministry would be charged with a multiplicity of responsibilities, said at the core of it would be ensuring the preservation of the consumer.
“These include the promotion of the rights and responsibilities of consumers; the protection of data; the provision of the appropriate facilitating infrastructure and legal framework to enable business development and trade; the empowerment of enterprises and entrepreneurs desirous of being the next vanguards in technology to break into emerging markets, among other endeavours,” he outlined.
The ministry will celebrate the day, along with partners in the international community, under the theme: Trusted Smart Products.
Among its outreach programme to educate Barbadians on consumer rights will be a series of talks on radio and television with staff from the Barbados National Standards Institution, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Fair Trading Commission and the Office of Public Counsel.
The Week of Activities will culminate with a public awareness programme in National Heroes Square on Friday, March 15, where members of the public will get the opportunity to learn about the roles of these and other agencies that fall under the ministry.