GOCA creates awareness on consumer rights issues

The Grenada Organisation for Consumer Affairs (GOCA) has embarked on an education drive to empower communities to know their rights as consumers, ahead of the creation of legislation that will be geared at protecting consumer rights.

A cross section of persons attending the public education forum at the Grenville Pentecostal Light House last week Thursday

GOCA is one of several organisations that have been selected to serve on the ‘Consumer Protection Advisory Committee’ whose appointment was recently approved by a Cabinet conclusion with the mandate to develop legislation to ensure that consumer rights are protected.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the committee, which is chaired by Director of Statistics in the Ministry of Finance, Halim Brizan, is expected to report back to the Cabinet within the next 6 months.

Ahead of the process, last week Thursday, GOCA held a public forum at the Grenville Pentecostal Light House, Grenville, St. Andrew, which focused on the telecommunications sector as part of a bigger initiative dubbed the “Know your rights campaign,” which will be taken to each parish within the tri-island state.

According to GOCA Vice President Milton Coy, in March, the organisation will take the public education forum to the parish of St. David at the Marlmount Community Center.

“It is our intention to have a week-long period of activities as part of our awareness and sensitisation drive to coincide with World Consumer Rights Day,” which is recognised on “March 15,” he said.

“We are going to start the week off on Sunday, March 12 and we will invite the communities and have available information on various consumer rights issues,” he added.

The GOCA vice president recalled that “the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had developed a single bit of legislation that could be used in each member state. It had reached a stage where governments were supposed to put it through Parliament but it hasn’t and so it has stalled.”

He noted that “the market forces would have changed things…times have changed… today so we have to adapt it and bring it into alignment with consumers needs at this time…in keeping not only with what we want in Grenada but what is also standard outside of Grenada.”

Coy pointed out that there is a “pressure and a move by consumers all over the world towards an awareness of consumers rights… because of advocacy from organisations like ours and  Consumer International (CI) and several other consumer bodies around the world”.

He added that “when we as consumers know what our rights and responsibilities are, we are in a better position to protect ourselves.”

THE NEW TODAY contacted Director of Statistics Halim  Brizan at the Ministry of Finance for a comment on the plans afoot with the Consumer movement.

According to Brizan, the development of a ‘Consumers Rights Act’ is in keeping with the CARICOM model, which was finalised last year and must be adopted and passed by all CARICOM member states as mandated in the Treaty of Chaguaramas that established the Caribbean Community.

Referencing the work being done by the Consumers Affairs Office, which falls under his department, Brizan pointed to the importance of adapting to consumer rights legislation.

“We want to have legislation to back up what we do…some consumers don’t get redress for their complaints and we want all consumers to have redress for all issues,” he told this newspaper.

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