JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Angela Manning has said that Jamaica ranked high among its CARICOM counterparts in preparing consumers for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which will be in place by 2005.
  • Mrs. Manning said that Jamaica was the first to draft legislation for the protection of consumers and that several CARICOM countries had modeled their laws from the Jamaican proposal.
  • Nonetheless, whilst some of these countries had gone ahead and passed legislation, Jamaica's Consumer Protection Act was still pending. Mrs. Manning said that she expected the legislation to be passed during the current legislative year.

Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Angela Manning has said that Jamaica ranked high among its CARICOM counterparts in preparing consumers for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which will be in place by 2005.
Mrs. Manning said that Jamaica was the first to draft legislation for the protection of consumers and that several CARICOM countries had modeled their laws from the Jamaican proposal.
Nonetheless, whilst some of these countries had gone ahead and passed legislation, Jamaica’s Consumer Protection Act was still pending. Mrs. Manning said that she expected the legislation to be passed during the current legislative year.
She further pointed out that Jamaica’s Consumer Affairs Commission was the first within CARICOM to launch its website and to establish an online complaint service, “to allow persons to make complaints from anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day, seven days per week”.
This service, she said was invaluable when unrestricted movement was allowed under CSME and the volume of activities among member countries increased. She reasoned that the issue of redress would be significantly greater when that time came.
At a recent Caribbean Consumer Conference in St. Lucia, Mrs. Manning pointed out that Jamaica was ranked second after Trinidad and Tobago in having structures in place to ensure consumers’ rights when the CSME took effect in 2005.
Trinidad has already passed its consumer protection law, so has Barbados, which was ranked third. In descending order, the others are St. Lucia; St Kitts and Nevis; St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. Some CARICOM countries, including Guyana, are still awaiting draft legislation, Mrs. Manning said.
She added that the aim of participants attending the Caribbean Consumer Conference was to get other CARICOM states actively involved and prepared by 2005, when the next conference would be held in Barbados.
Mrs. Manning pointed out that the 2005 conference was important, as the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) and the CSME were scheduled to come on stream in that year. By then, she said, a number of issues would have surfaced.
As a result, Mrs. Manning noted that all the CARICOM states have been asked to expedite the passage of the consumer protection legislation, “so that consumers would have protection across the board”.
She informed that Jamaica’s draft legislation was, “patterned and modelled for the entire region” and that the expectation was that each territory would adhere to this model to ensure some amount of uniformity.
Jamaica’s draft legislation, she said, was intended to ensure that consumers had access to “quick, low cost redress” and that adequate information was made available so that consumers might make informed choices. It will also address issues such as unfair contractual arrangements and suppliers’ liability as well as the sale of hazardous and harmful products and the notion of hidden costs as it relates to credit card use.
The CAC, Mrs. Manning said was putting all the mechanisms in place to protect consumers. “In our attempt to meet the needs, not only in Jamaica but regionally, the CAC will continue to utilise the synergies and links that have been formed, not only with our domestic consumer protection agencies, such as the Bureau of Standards, the Fair Trading Commission and the Office of Utilities Regulation etc, but we will seek to strengthen the synergies which have already been developed (with bodies outside Jamaica), such as the CARICOM Regional Organisation on Standard and Quality (CROSQ)”.
She explained that the CAC had also formed alliances with sister agencies in territories such as St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, Suriname and Curacao. “We will continue those relationships and seek to even strengthen them with the ultimate objective of ensuring that across the region, our consumers are adequately protected,” the CAC Head assured.