JIS News

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has said that out of 1,100 cases investigated last year, 583 were resolved.
Reporting on the performance of the FTC, at a media breakfast at the Knutsford Court Hotel today (September 8), Executive Director, Barbara Lee said that of the cases investigated last year, 602 related to complaints received that year.
In relation to other years, the total number of cases increased dramatically from 729 in 2001 to 1,100 in 2002, or 51 per cent, compared to four per cent increase in 2001, from 702 cases to 729 cases.
The highest volume of complaints in 2002, related to motor vehicles and bikes, accounting for 25 per cent of the total number of cases investigated; appliances recorded 14 per cent; computers and telecommunications each accounting for seven per cent; and professional service and furniture each accounting for five per cent.
In his address, Chairman of FTC, Peter-John Gordon, said that while the Free Competition Act (FCA) and its legal arm, the FTC had been largely accepted by the public, this had not been the case for business entities.
“For the most part, the FCA and its enforcement body, the FTC, have received a positive feedback from the Jamaican public,” he said, pointing out that they welcome the efforts of the FTC to protect their rights and to ensure that the benefits of competition – lower prices, higher quality and increased choice – were realised.
Mr. Gordon said however, that while business entities welcomed the efforts of the FTC when they were the beneficiaries of its intervention, they viewed the FTC as a hindrance to business when it prevented them from engaging in anti-competitive conduct, thereby raising concerns about the predictability and transparency of actions taken by the FTC.
Recognizing that while individual consumers, who fell victim to deceptive merchant practices were receiving redress, he said the behaviour of businesses in general remained unchanged, with identical complaints being made time and time again, against the same respondents.
Against this background, Mr. Gordon said, the FTC was now putting more emphasis on prevention rather than on remedy, for which information was crucial. In this regard, he said the FTC would promote the concept of the knowledgeable consumer and that information would be supplied either directly by the FTC or by encouraging others to provide it, through moral suasion or enforcement of the FCA. He noted that the staff of the FTC aggressively monitored advertisements in both the print and electronic media to ensure compliance to the FCA.
Pointing to the structure and function of the FTC, Mr. Gordon explained that the Commission comprised of two arms: a quasi-judicial arm, which comprises five appointed Commissions, and an investigative arm represented by the Staff of the Commission, and headed by an Executive Director. The investigative staff includes lawyers and economists who are supported by complaint and research officers.
He explained that the staff of the Commission undertook on its own initiative or at the request of any person, investigations, which enabled it to determine whether an enterprise was engaged in business practices that were in contravention of the Act. The staff is also engaged in educating the public as to their rights and responsibilities under the FCA.
The Commission advises the Minister on matters relating to the operation of the Act. It is authorised among others, to summon and examine witnesses, call for and examine documents, hear evidence, and in certain instances having made a finding, issue directives to a company that it believes to be a breach of the Act.

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