"In the absence of Consumer Protection Law in the country, effective regulatory regime by regulatory bodies in the country would do a lot to protect consumers from certain rights violation by consumers," said Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Board Chair, CUTS Accra.
Justice Date-Bah was speaking at an event in Accra organized by CUTS International Accra to mark 2015 World Consumer Rights Day. He stressed that CUTS Accra should stay true to its mandate of promoting consumer welfare. He further urged the organization aims to create a long-term partnership with government agencies and regulatory authorities to work towards protecting the welfare of the Ghanaian consumers.
Speaking on the theme, "The State of the Ghanaian Consumer", Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako, Centre Coordinator for CUTS International Accra, asserted that consumers have been taken for granted in Africa, particularly in Ghana where the violation of consumer rights is a daily staple. He called for the swift passage of the Consumer Protection Bill and implantation of the policy which has recently been approved by Parliament.
Speaking on the topic 'The Current State of the Consumer Protection Policy and Law" a consultant for Consumer Protection at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Mrs. Irene Aborchie-Nyahe reiterated the urgency for a consumer protection law in Ghana. She mentioned that because the sovereignty of the Ghanaian consumer was of high priority, cabinet has approved a consumer protection policy that was developed based on UN guidelines. She again stated that the Ministry has set up a committee to work on the consumer protection law. She called on consumers to be as self-regulators as possible because a consumer alone can ensure value for money and without their active participation all regulations become ineffective.
Speaking on the mandates of the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), Mr. James Lartey, Head of Communications stated that FDA regulates five product lines which are medicine, processed food products, cosmetics, and medical devices such as syringes and condoms, and households chemicals. He pointed out that FDA's main responsibility is ensuring that consumers do not have problem by using any product. The FDA is working towards increasing consumer rights awareness concerning the purchasing of drugs from unapproved premises such as public transport vehicles. He stated that by law, the only approved premises to purchase drugs are the hospitals, certified licensed chemical shops and pharmacies. He therefore advised consumers to support the FDA in regulating the products in the market by reporting expired, smuggled and adulterated products to the authority.
Mr. Charles Koranche, Senior Standards Officer from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) stressed the importance of adherence to standards by producers and importers in the country. He said the introduction of the Ghana – Product Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP) is an important step in regulating quality of products and thereby protecting the consumers.
Mr. Mawuku Zormelo, Deputy Director for Consumer and Corporate Affairs Division at the National Communication Authority (NCA) mentioned that consumer sovereignty is paramount to NCA. He added that the NCA has created a telecommunication environment that promotes competition and innovation which is evident in the increase number of telecom service providers in the country. In order to ensure that consumers are aware of their right to quality communication services, NCA organizes small hamlet fora to educate consumers of telecom services.
The Public Relations Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr. Yaro Kasambata on his part explains that the ACT 691 Section 2 and Sub-section 6 which mandates the NPA to ensure consumer protection in the country. NPA aims to ensure fair play between the consumer and the service providers. He emphasized on the role that NPA plays in ensuring petroleum products' quality through rigorous quality check tests in order to meet the required standards. Mr. Yaro further elaborated that apart from the mentioned functions, NPA continually monitors the supply chain to check for quality maintenance of certified products until they reach for the final user. He cautioned consumers and advised them to refrain from buying fuel from non-licensed distributors. . Mr Yaro also shared the same opinion as the officials present and called for consumers to practice self-regulation. He clearly stated that "regulations have a limit but the choice of the consumer is limitless"
The World Consumer Rights Day Celebration held at the Paloma Hotel, Accra was attended by officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, National Communication Authority (NCA), Food and Drug Authority (FDA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA). The meeting also had representatives from the Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), Nestle Ghana and the Vegetarian Association of Ghana as well as a cross section of the media.
Source: Appiah Adomako
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