Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
February 22, 2008
Key among its many tasks, the Consumer Affairs Department serves as a link between consumers and businesses.
This was emphatically explained by Ambassador Rosalyn Hazelle Permanent Secretary of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs during an SKNIS interview. She said Consumer Affairs should be seen as a vibrant department where there is interaction with the retailers and wholesalers as well as consumers. Ambassador Hazelle said the department intends to establish credibility on all sides and intends to be fair. She said that when they commence a programme they want it to be workable and evidence that a fair assessment was done.
Consumer Affairs Department Consultant Mr. Donald Cable elaborated on the fact that the department was instituted to work with all members of society and to promote national development. He said they do not see the Ministry as being opposed in any way to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce or any particular business. Mr. Cable said it is the Ministry’s decision to embrace all of society so that all members can rise to their responsibility to consumers and country.
The Consultant also mentioned some of the activities that the Department plans to undertake in the present year. These include instituting a radio programme termed “Consumer Wise” which has the objective of equipping the consumer to become a more efficient shopper. Advice and tips will include information on international marketplace occurrences, health, quality of goods, price of goods and expiry dates. Consumer Affairs Day will be celebrated internationally on March 15 and activities will include presentations in schools and at the factories of the CA Paul Southwell Industrial Site.
The initial objective of the week is to educate and then encourage consumers to apply responsible shopping techniques. Prior to the Week of Activities, there will also be a slogan and jingle competition and a newspaper column will be established with shopping and other tips for householders and interested persons. Another feature to come on stream shortly is a Consumer Affairs website. Mr. Cable also revealed that the Department is seeking membership in Consumer International which is an international umbrella organization for such Departments.
The new Director of Consumer Affairs Mr. Howard Richardson reemphasized that the Department is responsible for providing safe goods that are not a danger to the consumer as well as of a high quality. The Department also has the task of encouraging competitive pricing of goods according to Mr. Richardson.
He stressed that this is why his department has the onus to make the price fair to consumers and inform them how to make good purchasing decisions. Mr. Richardson exclaimed that he finds his new field exciting considering that he had just commenced his job as Director for one week. He said he formerly held jobs that required that he remain behind his desk but it was refreshing that this one included external field visits. It also enabled him to look at the details of particular issues that may previously have been taken for granted.
The full interview with Ambassador Hazelle and Messieurs Cable and Richardson will be aired on a future SKNIS programme.