Fast track Consumer Protection Bill – Kofi Kapi­to

Cassava - a staple food in Ghana

The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has called on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to fast-track the passage of the Consumer Protection Bill into law.

The bill, when passed, is expected to empower consumer right groups and indi­viduals to fight for interest of consumers and prevent situations where consumers are always taken for granted in the delivery of services.

Addressing a press conference in Accra as part of activities marking World Con­sumer Rights Day in Ghana, Mr Kofi Kapi­to, the Chief Executive Officer of CPA, said in the absence of such a law, consumers in the country remained vulnerable to manu­facturers and service providers.

The World Consumer Rights Day emanated from a speech delivered by Presi­dent John F. Kennedy on March 15, 1963, to the US Congress in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights.

He was the first world leader to do so, and the consumer movement now marks March 15 every year as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights.

The United Nations also adopted a set of guidelines for consumer protection which sought to persuade member countries to adopt these guidelines through policy changes or law.

The guidelines constituted a comprehensive policy framework outlining what governments needed to do to promote consumer protection in areas including measures that enable consumers to obtain redress, physical safety, protection and promotion of consumer economic interest and standards for safety and quality of consumer goods and services.

Mr Kapito lamented the increasing disre­spect patients had to endure at the various hospitals and clinics across the country.

“Patients endure insults and in some instances, family members of patients are made to sleep in the open air in the various medical centres,” he said.

He described as unfortunate the treatment meted to Ghanaians who visited the various diplomatic missions in the country for travel­ling documents.

“Many Ghanaians are treated as second ­class citizens in their own country, in some cases which can be referred to as daylight rob­bery. Not even a place of reception or waiting is provided for them and even old people have to be on their feet just to get a visa form,” he stated.

The CEO observed that even though in the Sale of Goods and Services Act there were some specific products such as perishables that could not be returned to the point of purchase, the same could not be said of electrical and engineering products but there were busi­nesses in the country that refused to operate within the confines of the Act.

Mr Kapito noted with concern the rate at which the various telecom companies were using their licences to operate what could best be described as raffles and lotteries rather than concentrate on providing efficient telecom ser­vices.

“The licence given them is not for promo­tions. What they are doing is deceptive.” He added.

He urged the govern­ment to take steps to reduce the high import duties on clothes to ensure that the ban on second-hand underwear became effective.

Mr Kapito said even though the institutions including the National Media Commission, the Food and Drugs Board and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission were mandated to safe­guard public interest and consumer laws in the country, they had fallen short of their responsibilities.

Source: Daily Graphic

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