Getting consumer protection right in the OECS

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — Consumers in the Eastern Caribbean can rest assured that their rights in the physical and digital world are being protected.

Thirty-five consumer affairs professionals will be trained over a two-week period in January on “The New Era of Consumer Protection 2019 and Beyond”. This short course is a collaboration between the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the University of the West Indies Centre for Professional Development and Lifelong Learning (UWI – CPDLL) as part of the OECS – EU RIGHT Programme.   

The rise of digital transactions has changed the consumer protection landscape. There has been a shift from a traditional consumer protection sphere (physical goods and services) to consumers needing protection in the digital sphere. Public sector officials and officials from consumer affairs organisations will have the opportunity to develop their expertise on current and emerging consumer trends and improve their capacity to address the legal and policy frameworks, consumer empowerment, business guidance, enforcement of laws and issue redress.

Director-General of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, reiterated the organisation’s commitment to protecting consumers in the region.

“All of our experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic and our vulnerability to natural disasters have highlighted the need to move in a more decisive way to adopt new technologies and new approaches to consumer protection. This means that consumers will have better representation and new trends in consumer protection can be addressed swiftly and effectively.”

The course will provide OECS professionals with the necessary tools to uphold their legal obligations to protect the rights of consumers and enable them to effectively monitor, investigate and address consumer issues within their respective Member States.

Interim executive director and chief executive officer of the Sagicor Cave Hill School Business and Management, head department of management studies, and head of the centre for professional development and lifelong learning at the University of the West Indies, Dr Dion Greenidge emphasised that consumer protection is the cornerstone to pivoting to a more competitive business environment.

“Consumer protection laws are an important part of a reliable market economy. Consumer protection policies, laws and regulations help increase consumer welfare by ensuring that businesses can be held accountable. This course will offer OECS professionals insight into the necessary tools and knowledge to ensure that consumer protection contributes to the development of dynamic and effective markets for businesses. Moreover, consumer demand drives innovation and economic development as businesses are required to maintain fair prices and good quality of their products and services. Therefore, consumer protection laws enable companies to enhance their profitability, competitiveness and sustainability.”

The course began on Monday, January 17, 2022, and will run until Friday, January 28, 2022. Participants are registered from the OECS Protocol Member States namely: Antigua and Barbuda; the Commonwealth of Dominica; Grenada; Montserrat; St Kitts and Nevis and; Saint Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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