Faced with emerging threats to consumer safety, government has pledged its commitment to the protection of Barbadians from the injustices meted out by local and international companies.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Commerce, Dwight Sutherland gave the assurance at the Ellerton Wesleyan Holiness Church as his ministry began celebrations for World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 under the theme, Trusted Smart Products.
During his address, Minister Sutherland identified the acceleration of technological advancement in an increasingly globalized world as a major challenge for local protection agencies.
“We have become constantly bombarded with a range of sophisticated goods and services such as smart phones, variable fitness trackers, smart TVs etc., which allow the user to connect, interact and share with other users and devices across the internet. In this regard, my ministry has been charged with a multiplicity of responsibilities that ensure the preservation of the consumer,” said Sutherland.
“With the accelerated evolution of the technological environment along with the rapid uptake of smart technologies and devices, the challenge exists for government and its 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 your interest – the consumer interest.”
During the week of activities, members of the public will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with officials from the Barbados National Standards Institution, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Fair Trading Commission and Office of Public Counsel as part of the ministry’s public awareness campaign.
Sutherland recognised consumers as “the largest economic group affected by almost every public and private economic decision,” but admitted that often times they were, “the only important group whose views are often not heard”.
The commerce minister pointed to the eight basic rights recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985, which he promised government would continue to prioritize.
These consumer rights include the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to a healthy environment.
“March 15 is the day marked to unite consumers worldwide and celebrate the rights and relevance of those rights in a world being transformed by commercialization.
“These eight rights protect each and every consumer from malpractices of companies and empower consumers with the legal ability to fight the injustices meted out by companies. But remember that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand and consumers must learn to consider the quality of goods and services provided and exercise their choices appropriately to ensure they receive a fair deal.
“So this year, we join the international community alongside one of the principal defenders of the inalienable rights of consumers worldwide,” said Sutherland. (KS)