JAMAICA IS about to implement a new National Consumer Protection and Welfare Policy, which will empower consumers to make informed choices.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade, and stakeholders gathered online for a virtual consultation workshop with two foreign consultants, John Lawrence and Beth Baker, to review information that will be accustomed to a nine-month research and planning period for the policy, which began in January.
CAC CEO Dolsie Allen said the goal of the workshop is to assess whether the new policy is relevant and consumer-friendly.
Michelle Parkins, technical director at the Department of Industry, Investment and Trade, said the policy was overdue, but still relevant.
“It’s a delayed journey, but it has, in fact, been a critical journey…which started as far back as 2015. In 2015, the Consumer Protection Portfolio Department recommended the development of this policy and included it as a strategy in our national development plan Vision 2030 Jamaica,” Parkins remarked.
She said the new consumer policy was due to be implemented in March 2018, but approval for its development was only given in May 2018 by the Cabinet.
A steering committee was created in 2019 and the first meeting took place in February of the same year. CAC then applied for funding for the cost of developing the policy from the Foundation for Competitiveness and Growth.
Just nine months before its implementation, the workshop was organized to present and discuss the research, findings and recommendations.
Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Trade, Dr Norman Dunn, said deliberations on the draft National Consumer Protection and Welfare Policy and Implementation Plan are a key part of the government’s guidelines for national policy making, which is to ensure that people are put at the centre. of decision making.
“It also underscores this ministry’s commitment to dialogue and inclusiveness. We therefore invite your participation in a strong national policy that will strengthen Jamaica’s tandem as a global business destination,” Dunn told those gathered in person and online for the consultation workshop.
He said the Jamaican government has always been a forerunner in developing and adopting policies to promote consumer safety and well-being. He also noted that Jamaica was among the original signatories to the 2015 United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection and the 2001 Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which articulates provisions for international cooperation and consumer safety.
“In a modern economy, it’s essential that consumers have access to accurate and unbiased information about the products and services they purchase,” Dunn said.
Although Jamaica is ranked first in the Caribbean and sixth in Latin America for ease of doing business, the new consumer protection policy aims to inspire trust, innovation, stronger investment and economic growth. But Dunn said there was still work to be done.
“The Consumer Commission and the Social Protection Policy and Implementation Plan had the potential to be a game-changer for Jamaica…When we also look at the large number of agencies engaged in consumer protection activities in Jamaica, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done. to make our public service much more efficient,” he said.
“For our part, we are looking at the landscape of agencies and departments in our ministry, to see to what extent efforts can be made to limit duplication of effort while increasing output,” the Minister of State continued.
At the end of the meeting, the team of experts and stakeholders reviewed and validated the vision, mission, objectives, policies, strategies, activities and performance indicators that are described in the development plan. policy implementation.