A forum to mark this year’s World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) has taken place in Accra.


The Forum, organised by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Ghana, in partnership with the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), urged Government to pass the Consumer Rights Protection Bill into law.


Mr Kofi Kapito, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CPA, noted that protecting Ghanaians was not only about having the police and the military doing patrols, but also about a law to protect consumers, adding that the enactment of a Consumer Rights Protection Act to protect the rights of consumers in Ghana was long overdue.


“I want everyone to know that consumer protection is not about me—Kapito—as a person. It is about every Ghanaian which includes the President, Vice President, Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice. We are all consumers. We all go to Accra and Kumasi Mall. We all shop at the Melcom and Shoprites. We all buy Unilever and Nestle products. We all consume electricity from the ECG and water from Ghana Water Company. We may have different political and religious affiliations but what unites us as a people is that we are all CONSUMERS,” Mr Kapito emphasized.


Mr Kapito expressed concern about how Ghana had literally become the junkyard for inferior goods from Asia.


“As you make your way to shops around the country, one notice that you will come across is: GOODS SOLD ARE NOT RETURNABLE. For a manufacturer or merchant to say goods sold are not returnable, it means that the goods are inferior and are not fit for purpose,” Mr Kaipito concluded.


In a statement, Mr James Lartey, Head of Communications, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), urged consumers to be responsible by being vigilant and refrain from patronizing goods that were not labelled, adding that consumers should make it a duty to alert the FDA and other protection agencies about substandard goods and services.


Welcoming participants to the forum, Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Country Co-ordinator, CUTS Ghana, said consumer rights referred to the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which were hazardous to life and property.


Mr Adomako expressed concern about the abuse of consumer rights in the financial services sector where bad services were provided and avenues for redress for consumers were virtually absent.


Mr Adomako, identified high interest rates and low interests on savings, unfair contract terms on loans and mortgages, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fees, hidden charges, security issues and privacy concerns as some of the abuses.


He said there was the need for banks to consider diversifying their products to include mortgages and real estate financing, among others, and to also scrap ATM charges.


Of  the digital system, he  listed low internet speed, phishing scam, spam messages, Trust issues in online services and products, high cost of data, credit card fraud and identity theft, among others, as key concerns.


Mr Adomako, therefore, called for a strong regulation, policy interventions and a strict enforcement regime of standards, adding that the need for a consumer protection law was urgent.


He said even though Ghana had a policy on consumer rights protection, a legal framework was required for the policy to be effectively implemented, hence the need for Government to, as a matter of urgency, expedite action on the passage of the Consumer Protection Rights Bill into law.


WCRD aims to raise awareness about the rights of consumers and the violations of these rights in the marketplace, and to draw the attention of governments to their responsibility to promote and ensure consumer welfare by instituting protection measures to regulate the activities of businesses and service providers.


WCRD is celebrated worldwide to champion the cause of consumers and demand for policy and regulatory environment to protect consumers and to address issues affecting consumer rights and safety.


The Day, which was first observed in 1983, became an important annual event and observed on the 15th of March, every year.


This year’s World Consumer Rights Day, commemorated on Thursday, March 15, was on the theme:  ‘Making the digital marketplace fairer’.


In Ghana, CUTS Ghana, a registered non-profit organization which works in the areas of consumer protection, economic regulation, trade and development, regional integration and competition policy and law, among others, organized the forum to commemorate the Day.


Meanwhile, an e-Petition was launched, as part of activities marking WCRD 2018, to raise 20,000 signatures to petition the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Attorney-General’s Department to finalize the drafting of the Bill; cabinet to approve for Parliament; Parliament to pass the Consumer Protection Law before the year ends; and for the Ministry of Finance to provide every financial consideration required.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)


Created: 22 March 2018
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