Posts tagged consumer rights

Message from the AG Sayed-Khaiyum on World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) reinforces the rights of consumers and provides an opportunity to consumer movements worldwide to raise concerns against market abuses that undermine consumer interests.

The theme this year focuses on reforms to ensure consumer justice “Consumer Justice Now: Call for Reforms”.

The Bainimarama government is committed to protection of consumers and has taken significant steps in ensuring that appropriate laws and processes are implemented to enable redress for aggrieved consumers.

With the modern market becoming increasingly complex and diverse, consumers need to have appropriate information and access to timely redress should the need arise.

The Bainimarama government is mindful of the changing needs of consumers, therefore, commenced the process of reviewing laws and processes relating to consumer protection with a view to updating and strengthening them. In order to determine the appropriate changes, extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders and consumers have been undertaken to ensure that the review is holistic and in the end offers consumers a simple and expedient framework to protect their rights and interests. As part of this reform for example the Independent Legal Services Commission (ILSC) was created to make the legal fraternity accountable and transparent in their conduct. Consumers/Clients now have an avenue through which they can register complaints against legal practitioners.

Consumers are the key to the growth of any economy. Therefore, apart from addressing consumer concerns through legal reforms, the government also partners with the business community to ensure that they are aware of their legal responsibilities and understand the synergies that exist or indeed that can be created

Recently, the Consumer Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has been re-appointed to the board of Trade Standards Advisory Council (TSAC), which includes representatives from the private sector.

Accordingly, consumers will continue to have a voice in determining and establishing trade standards that protect consumers and encourage fair trade. The government will also ensure that policies foster transparency, openness, and competition to ensure businesses and industries flourish, while consumer rights are protected.

In May last year, Fiji hosted the International Organisation for Standardisation‘s Committee on Consumer Policies (ISO/COPOLCO), which was attended by approximately 24 countries. The consumer, NGO and business representatives were surprised to see the overwhelming attendance by the Fijian business community at this meeting.

This provided the impetus for the development of policies and laws in an inclusive manner. The business community came forward to understand consumer concerns and work with consumer bodies such as COPOLCO to develop at an international and regional level laws and policies for the protection of consumers.

The ISO/COPOLCO for the first time recognised that there is an imbalance in the decision making at the international standardization. A number of Pacific island countries that are non-ISO members are not able to contribute in the development of international standards and are forced to accept the standards or are faced with imports of substandard products that are rejected by countries with strong controls. This led to the proposal to establish a Pacific Islands Consumer Network on Standards, which will channel the concerns and contribution of Pacific Islands.

I wish you all a happy and successful World Consumer Rights Day and reiterate the fact that consumers are a crucial component of the economy; therefore, their concerns cannot be addressed in isolation. Consultations with all and inclusive reforms is the way forward for the benefit of consumers and the growth of the Fijian economy.

Vinaka vakalevu.