Government urged to fast-track passage of consumer protection bill

Mr Kofi Owusuhene, the Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Protection Agency has called on the government to be proactive and fast-track the passage of the Consumer Protection Bill into law.

Mr Owusuhene expressed concern about the undue delay in passing the bill into law, saying that when the bill is passed, it would empower consumers in the country to fight for their interests.

He made the call during a panel discussion in Accra organized by the Ghana Journalists Association dubbed: “Business Advocate” on Ghana Television, supported by the BUSAC Fund, Denmark Embassy and the United States Agency for International Development.

Speaking on the topic, “The Consumer Protection Law in the Country,” Mr Owusuhene said the absence of a law to regulate the sector had made it difficult to protect the rights of consumers.

He noted that the country needed a legislative instrument to empower the public, since Ghanaians were exposed to abuse by service providers.

Mr Owusuhene 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, and indicated that there were busi­nesses in the country that refused to operate within the confines of the Act.

He 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.

Mrs Irene Aborchie-Nyahe, Consultant on Consumer Protection, Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the United Nations adopted a set of guidelines for consumer protection which sought to persuade member countries to adopt those guidelines through policy change.

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

She explained that the new Ghana consumer protection law was to be based on the Consumer Protection Policy as captured in the Ghana Trade Policy with sub-themes.

Mrs Aborchie-Nyahe said the sub-themes included consumer protection, health and safety of Consumers, economic interests of consumers, access to adequate information, consumption and the environment, consumer representation, competition policy and government procurement.

She said the objective of the new consumer law was to ensure a fair and transparent market place in which the rights of consumers were recognized and protected.

Mrs Aborchie-Nyahe emphasized that protecting consumers’ economic interests was as important as regulation to ensure that goods and services were safe, available and at a reasonable price. GNA

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