JIS News

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) will join consumer groups around the world in observing World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), on March 15 under the theme: ‘Be a Smart Consumer.Empower Yourself’.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer at the CAC, Dolsie Allen, said that the annual observation provided the opportunity to focus on and solidify the national and international consumer movement.
“As an annual event, WCRD seeks to highlight the rights of consumers and to lobby support for those rights to be respected and protected,” the CEO pointed out, adding that “importantly also, the celebration provides a forum for exposing the market abuses and social injustices, which undermine those rights.”
Mrs. Allen informed that in highlighting the theme, focus will be placed on heightening awareness about the basic rights and responsibilities of consumers and emphasizing the need for them to exercise these rights.
The basic rights of the consumer are: the right to satisfaction of basic needs; safety; to be informed; to choose; to be heard; redress; consumer education; and the right to a healthy environment.
As a means of keeping consumers informed, Mrs. Allen pointed out that through the efforts of the government and its agencies, consumers have benefited from specially designed articles in the area of reading labels, understanding bar codes, and identifying ingredients in packaged foods targeted at various demographics.
“When you go shopping, ensure that you read your labels properly to ensure that ingredients in that particular item are things that you would want to consume,” Mrs. Allen warned.
She encouraged persons “to look at expiry dates because very often, things are on the shelves that have been expired and can be hazardous to health.”
On the matter of redress, the CEO explained that the CAC has the mandate to see that consumers receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, or unsatisfactory services.
She noted too, that the work programme of the CAC has been so designed for consumers to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
To observe World Consumer Rights Day, the CAC, in collaboration with the National Consumers’ League, will be staging several activities, including a church service at the Barbican Baptist Church on Sunday, March 15; mini exhibits highlighting the theme, at libraries islandwide and the dissemination of a message from Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce (MIIC), Karl Samuda, at churches and schools across the island.
Other activities will be the staging of a ‘Plaza Beat’ on Saturday, March 14 at the Portmore Mall. The CEO pointed out that this outreach is a means of sensitizing persons of their rights and how to become better and more responsible consumers.
To culminate the observance, the CAC will stage a community outreach and street parade on Monday, March 16, at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay to further sensitize businesses, students, vendors, and consumers about their basic rights.
World Consumer Rights Day was first observed on March 15, 1983, and has since become an important occasion for mobilising citizen action.
The CAC is an agency of the MIIC, with a mandate to safeguard the rights of consumers and promote responsibility among them.

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