Every one of us is a consumer and we expect high standards, fair treatment, a guarantee of safety for the products and services we utilize, and most of all, a legislative framework which protects us.
Today Jamaica joins 250 countries around the world in the celebration of World Consumer Rights Day. This year’s theme ‘Consumer Justice Now’ is particularly poignant, as in this highly globalized, technology driven world economy, the very well informed, sophisticated consumer demands products and services of a very high standard.
The theme was specifically selected to coincide with the update of the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection, which is moving towards including new provisions to upgrade consumer protection on issues such as financial services, energy and consumer representation.
Here in Jamaica the Consumer Affairs Commission is the vanguard of Consumer Rights, and continues to monitor global best practices, lobby and advocate on behalf of consumers. The CAC has recently been strengthened, through amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, giving it additional powers to act on behalf of the consumer, thereby enhancing its ability to protect consumers’ rights. The CAC will also increase its public education activities to ensure that consumers are more informed of their rights and the opportunities for redress.
Another area of increased protection for the Jamaican consumer is the proposed Code of Conduct for the Banking Sector. While the code of conduct is voluntary, it is expected that the Banking Sector will abide by the code, as it seeks to ensure service of the highest standards to the consumer.
The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is very passionate about ensuring that within the Jamaican business environment, providers of goods and services operate according to the highest international standards. Over the past year Jamaica has embraced a number of global standards, which has served to increase investor confidence, and improve the perception of Jamaica as an environment in which and with which to do business.
Today as we celebrate World Consumer Rights Day, I wish to laud the contributions of the Consumer Affairs Commission, the Fair Trading Commission, the National Consumers’ League and all other organizations involved in Consumer advocacy.
Through your work tireless work in advocating, lobbying, monitoring global trends and information dissemination, the Jamaican consumer expects extremely high standards from the providers of good and services.
Plans are well advanced to establish the fourth node in the global supply chain right here in Jamaica. The global logistics hub in Jamaica will see the country servicing the needs of hundreds of thousands of consumers locally, and millions of consumers all across the globe. This is an initiative of global significance, one which will result in significant economic growth, and the raising of Jamaica’s position on the global value chain At every step of the way however, we must ensure that the consumer is protected and that Jamaica raises its position on the consumer happiness index.
Today I wish to congratulate all providers of goods and services who adhere to best practice and high standards and recognize the right of the consumer to information and to redress. Let us continue to raise the bar, offering the Jamaican consumer and the global consumer of Jamaican goods and services, the highest possible consumer experience. As consumers, let us take advantage of the wealth of information available through the various organizations, as an informed consumer is an empowered consumer.