Consumer Council happy with $100,000 Budget 2012 increase

25/11/2011 16:37

THE Consumer Council is happy with the $100,000 increase in its grant from the Government for 2012.

The Government has increased the Council’s budget from approximately $600,000 for 2011 to $700,000 for 2012. For many years that Council’s budget has remained the same, while demand for its services from consumers and stakeholders had been on continuous upward trend.

This is a clear reflection of the Government’s commitment to consumer protection and recognition of the Consumer Council’s pivotal role as the country’s consumer rights watchdog. It also shows that whilst Government is committed to facilitating economic activity and commerce, it is equally sensitive to the issue of consumer protection particularly against unscrupulous and illegal trade practices.

From January to October this year the Council has been able to help consumers recover a total of $2 million through our complaints and mediation services. We have also contributed to the reduction in the illegal practice of exclusionary notices by retailers such as the imposition of “goods once sold cannot be returned” policies. Council had also forced 128 traders to rectify problems such as expired goods, improper labelling, etc, thereby minimising the work of regulatory agencies.

For the Council as an organisation, the budget increase will mean that we will be able to reach out more in terms of our consumer rights awareness campaigns and education for consumers, civil society and the business community. It will also assist the Council address issues areas that we have been unable to effectively address due to resource constraints such as second-hand vehicles, spare parts, 22ct jewellery etc.

The budget increase will no doubt increase the Council’s level of responsiveness and services to consumers in the area of complaints and market surveillance. The Council’s work does not only benefit consumers, but also the Government indirectly. Our work on issues like pharmaceutical prices and practices, hardware, and so forth has helped regulators and the Government as we have been able to uncover unscrupulous trade practices.

Our 2012 budget windfall does not only benefit the Council as an organisation, but ultimately the consumers who now face more complex commercial environments and emerging issues.

The challenge for the Council as an organisation is to deliver to the Government’s expectations for 2012 in light of the budgetary increase and ensure that Governments consumer protection initiative is realised.