Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says there is a need to pursue a more active consumer protection, advocacy, and legislative environment in order to protect the rights of consumers.
“We must seek, in an even more aggressive and consistent way, to improve consumer information and consumer representation, protect consumers from health hazards, and strengthen the legal position of consumers, particularly with regards to their economic interests,” she stated.
Mrs Ffolkes- Abrahams was speaking at the National Consumers’ League 45th annual general meeting held on September 26 at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) Auditorium, New Kingston.
She said that in a liberalised environment, it is important that power is placed in the hands of the consumer, by giving them the right tools and the necessary information to make informed choices.
She argued that the efficient functioning of the economy and the well-being of the society depend not only on proper legislation and enforcement, but also, to a large extent, on consumer awareness and how individual citizens use their power of choice.
According to the State Minister, consumers have been subjected to dishonoured promises, misrepresentation, deceptive advertising, and in some cases, even fraud.
“We must do more to eliminate the practice of retailers offering goods for sale as ‘special offers’ with the expiration dates hidden. We must be more vigilant in protecting consumers against goods being put on ‘sale’ at higher prices by merchants, while giving consumers the impression that they are actually paying less. As consumers, we need to know at all times, precisely what we are paying for,” she stated.
Mrs. Ffolkes – Abrahams noted that organisations such as the National Consumers’ League and the Consumer Affairs Commission(CAC), are critical in providing leadership and protecting the rights and interests of Jamaican consumers.
The National Consumers’ League is a non-profit, non-governmental, non-political and non-denominational organization. The League was established in 1966 to provide consumers with information and advice on goods and services and to lobby the government and businesses on behalf of consumers.