Ministry of Business seeks to enhance consumer rights, awareness

The Consumer Affairs Division of the Ministry of Business will intensify its campaign to ensure that consumers better understand their rights.

Since assuming responsibility for the Consumer Affairs Division in February, the ministry has set out to build consumers’ confidence in businesses.

On March 15, the division will host a symposium themed ‘Antibiotics off the menu”. It targets the general public and fast food companies. The latter group is specifically targeted for serving meat from animals routinely given antibiotics used in human medicine.

There will be outreaches in all the administrative regions, targeting residents who will be made aware of their rights as consumers.

The Ministry will continue the “Know Your Consumer Rights” campaign, launched in 2015 under the Ministry of Tourism. This campaign is based on the eight rights of every Guyanese consumer including the right to choose, the right to safety and the right to receive redress for grievances over consumer products.

The Know Your Consumer Rights campaign involves consumer affairs lectures to Grades 10 and 11 students, commemoration of World Consumer Rights Day (March 15),  participation in expos, conducting live radio and television programmes, and disseminating consumer awareness booklets, brochures and book marks.

The division has the responsibility for public education, drafting consumer policies and legislation, and implementation of regulatory systems to ensure compliance.

The activities in this division are centered on consumer awareness in collaboration with all affiliated agencies which are responsible for consumer protection, namely: the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS), the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission, Food and Drug Analyst Department and the three consumer bodies: Guyana Consumers’ Association, Consumer Advisory Bureau and Consumer Movement of Guyana.

Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin sees this campaign as a method to build consumers’ confidence to accept and pay for only services and products that they are satisfied with, while encouraging businesses to provide consumers with quality products.

Over the past years, consumers have lamented over the wide range of poor quality goods which are available on the market. These goods range from utensils to clothing, household appliances, technological instruments, and industrial machinery.

It has also been recognised, that too often, the provisions of the law are not honoured by businesses. Consumers from low to medium socio-economic areas are targeted for this campaign since they are traditionally less likely to know and exercise their rights than those from the higher socio-economic brackets. Consumers have two levels of protection; the first coming from the Consumers Affairs Division and the other being the Competition and Consumers Affairs Commission (CCAC). The latter is empowered to pursue justice for aggrieved consumers.