JIS News

Public concerns about the fees being charged by banking institutions are among issues that will be addressed under a special project, which will be launched in Jamaica on November 24.
The three-year project, which is being sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Consumer International (CI) at a cost of $50,107,000 (US$563,000), is geared towards heightening consumer awareness and protection in three select countries in the region. The other participating countries are Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.
Chief Executive Officer of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, told JIS News that one of the critical issues that will be addressed under the project is the operations of banking and financial institutions and how these impact on consumers.
“We are going to be looking at how consumers are being treated by the banks or the financial sector. There are a lot of hidden costs and unilateral decisions that are being made by banks that affect our consumers and it is not limited to Jamaica but across the region,” Mrs. Allen pointed out.
She informed that under the project, the Commission will be reviewing some of the banks’ contracts, looking into protocols regarding interest rates and other financial concerns shared by consumers.
Mrs. Allen noted that from this intervention, it is hoped that “we can come up with a code on how banks should operate, how they should treat their customers and the bankers’ associations across the region may sign up for this code, which will ensure that our consumers are protected.”
According to the CAC CEO, the project is about ensuring consumer protection and strengthening Government and non-governmental organisations that take care of consumers’ interests and concerns.
“It is about helping the region to be aware of consumer rights and protection. What we find in the Caribbean is that we are on the passive side when it comes on to consumer issues and we are trying to see how we can have agencies being more active in securing their rights and ensuring that their rights are honoured by providers,” Mrs. Allen pointed out.
The CEO noted that the project will include surveys, workshops, seminars and interviews with various consumer protection agencies. Following the launch at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on November 24, the first workshop will be held in Jamaica on November 25, followed by others in the participating countries.
Additionally, a hotline will be set up at the CAC to facilitate queries and concerns from consumers.
As part of the project, the Commission will also examine laws that govern consumers in other countries and see how best they can be incorporated into consumer acts in the region.
“This is the time that consumers need a body to look out for them, so the project is about improving service and having stronger and more vibrant consumer protection agencies to safeguard consumer rights and responsibilities,” Mrs. Allen said.

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