St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is currently engaging in a week of activities (March 12 – 17) to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day 2023, which falls on March 15 every year.
Consumers International states, “Consumer Rights Day is a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.”
World Consumer Rights Day is a United Nations globally recognised and accredited commemorative day since 1983.
Consumers International is a membership organisation for consumer groups from 200 member organisations in more than 100 countries to empower and champion the rights of consumers everywhere around the world. Consumers International has run the consumer movement campaign for 40 years, where Members help select the campaign topic each year to mobilise global action on pressing issues impacting consumers.
The 2023 theme is “Empowering Consumers Through Clean Energy Transitions”, focusing on empowering, protecting and encouraging consumers and acknowledging the impact consumers and the movement of goods has on worsening climate issues.
“Last year, global energy prices rose by 50%, impacting people everywhere and causing many to drastically change their lifestyles to pay for energy… in our global insights survey with Members, 81% reported that consumers are adjusting their budgets so they can pay their energy bills.” – Consumers International.
In his address to officially declare the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day Week of Activities open, the Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Dr Denzil Douglas spoke of the impact energy prices have had on consumers of the Federation.
“The emphasis must be placed on the need to transition away from overwhelming dependence on this energy source to more sustainable financial and [economic] sources which have [proven] more beneficial to our consumers. This year’s theme for World Consumer Rights Day also brings to the fore pressing issues of food scarcity and high prices of goods and services, which consumers are facing daily as the world struggles to rebound economically and financially from the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian/Ukraine War.”
The challenge in 2023 with consumer rights is helping consumers through present difficulties while enabling a rapid transition that guarantees sustainability, security, and affordability in the long term.
“As a government, the world over is struggling to navigate the greatest cost of living prices in a generation, and as the energy world responds to supply and climate issues, ultimately, it is imperative that long-term sustainability is achieved by the integration of alternative energy sources to the benefit of our consumers. To better understand the overall importance of the theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2023, we must first understand the relationship between the continued consumption of fossil fuels, [and] its effect on global warming, climate change, and the continued effects on our daily lives.”
Advocacy efforts in collaboration with energy experts should increase to explore innovative approaches and the necessary legislation to support consumers.
What is the government doing to secure consumer rights in the Federation?
The Consumer Affairs Minister shared that legislation to bolster existing consumer rights laws will soon be presented in parliament, and other initiatives to protect consumer rights and increase awareness and advocacy.
“Our people should no longer accept service that is below what is advertised and charged from utility companies or faulty products which could cause injury. Therefore, the Consumer Affairs Department will continue to highlight the negative impacts on our communities, which could arise as a result of poor or non-existent mechanisms for consumer protection here in St. Kitts and Nevis. So the Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs places a high priority on the overall satisfaction of the consumers in our Federation.”
Dr Douglas continued, “ Therefore, in 2023, your ministry and, by extension, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis will proceed with the reintroduction of the CARICOM Consumer Protection Bill… The government will endeavour to have the CARICOM Consumer Protection Bill passed through all of the required readings and stages towards its adoption in this year, 2023. The Federation will then transition into the modern era of consumer protection offering the Consumer Affairs Department greater legislative scope to issue citations for infractions, which will redound to the benefit of all consumers here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Dr Douglas concluded by urging the people of the Federation to work with the government in helping to secure and strengthen consumer rights.
“I want to emphasise that consumer issues [are] multifaceted therefore, special attention must be given to raising the level of public awareness in relation to the consequences of a business model which results in adverse effects for our environment and by extension of our planet. The Department of Consumer Affairs must also place emphasis on the use of sustainable materials in the construction of our homes while also making these homes energy efficient and less susceptible to energy wastage, at the Consumer Affairs Department. We will continue to provide information to better protect consumers in our Federation as they undertake transactions in the marketplace while lending support to the formulation of public policy which will support the development of sustainable consumer goods.” – the Rt. Hon. Dr Denzil Douglas, Minister of Consumer Affairs.
See the Minister’s full address here: