Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Paul Queeley, explained the role, functions, duties, and powers of the Department of Consumer Affairs during the popular radio and television show ‘Working for You’ on April 14.
He said the “Consumer Affairs Department was established to inform educate and to empower consumers to protect themselves when conducting transitions in the marketplace. We are the only agency with the responsibility of consumer advocacy within the Federation and in light of this, the department has been given the mandate of ensuring that the rights of consumers are defended and that a suitable and fair marketplace is maintained.”
“Since the inception of the department in 2002, the issue which dominated the scope of the work of the department was price control, which was geared at protecting the most vulnerable in our society hereby allowing them to purchase basic food items at reasonable prices,” he said. “With this aspect dominating the large portion of the workload, other issues relating to consumer protection was somewhat neglected.”
“With changes in the global economy, and the overall focus being diverted from price control to that of trade liberalisation coupled with the closure of the government supply office in 2013, the focus of the department has been adapted to current economic realities and the main responsibilities of the department now are engagement in market research, providing complaint resolution services, ensuring all businesses comply with the laws of the Consumer Protection Act of 2003, offering educational programmes to the public so that they may have the necessary information as to their rights as consumers, and monitoring government price control items such as the 23 categories of the food basket items and essential drugs,” said Director Queeley.