A new head of the Office of the Public Counsel is expected to be appointed in the coming financial year to ensure consumers have representation in their complaints against businesses.
That assurance was given by Minister of Energy and Business Development Senator Lisa Cummins on Monday, in response to questions from MP for the City Corey Lane who expressed concern about consumers suffering at the hands of businesses that were not regulated or licensed.
“Within the parliamentary brief, I see that the aim is to get a lot of these cases before counsel within 42 days.
“Is there any chance within this financial year that we can look at how we license work… [and implement] a robust programme in educating and advocating action for citizens in relation to their grievances with particular businesses? And how are we looking to bring about that 42-day target to get these particular cases heard and determined?” Lane asked as the Estimates Debate continued on Monday.
Sitting in the well of Parliament along with other key officials from her ministry, Senator Cummins said the previous Public Counsel had moved on elsewhere in the government service and a replacement would have to be found.
“We expect that during this financial year, we will have the assignment of a new officer to take responsibility for that to treat to the very kinds of issues that you made reference to,” she said.
“So, yes, the expectation is that we will meet the targets that are being set once we have completed the process of working through the Public Service Commission, the assignment of a new Office of Public Counsel.”
The Office of the Public Counsel administers the Consumer Guarantee Act, represents consumers at rate hearings, mediates disputes between consumers and suppliers, and represents consumers before the Consumer Claims Tribunal. (DP)