Ghana Observes World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) was, yesterday, commemorated in Ghana, with a call on consumers to be responsible by being vigilant and refrain from patronizing substandard goods and services.

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 theme for 2015 worldwide event is ‘Consumers Right to Healthy Food’ and in Ghana, the celebration theme was expanded to cover consumer protection from abuses and exploitations and the call for the passage of consumer protection law.

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

WCRD 2015 was commemorated in Ghana ahead of the scheduled date, March 15 being a Sunday. At a forum to mark the day in Accra, yesterday, Mrs Irene Aborchie-Nyahe, a Consultant on consumer protection issues, representing the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), disclosed that a Consumer Protection Policy had been approved by cabinet while a committee had also been established at MoTI to work on a Consumer Protection Law for Ghana.

Mrs Aborchie-Nyahe said, however, that consumer responsibility or self-regulation was critical in promoting and ensuring consumer rights and could, therefore, not be replaced with law.
In a presentation, Mr James Lartey, Head of Communications, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), urged consumers not to patronize medicines sold on public transport because the practice was an affront to the law.

For his part, Mr Mawuko Zormelo, a Deputy Director, National Communications Authority (NCA), reiterated the need for self-regulation on the part of consumers in order to be able to fight the menace of shoddy goods and services and to compel producers of goods and services to maintain standards and produce safe, efficacious and quality goods.

Mr Yaro Kasambata, Public Relations Officer, National Petroleum Authority (NPA), pledged the commitment of NPA to protecting consumer rights against substandard goods and services in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry.

A standards Officer, Macmillan Prentice, in a contribution, disclosed that in an effort to strengthen consumer protection, promote their rights and encourage inter-regional trade, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was initiating a programme to institute sub-regional standards as against national standards.

Mr Prentice said in three to five years, the new sub-regional standards would become applicable in West Africa, with the establishment of Regional Regulatory Agencies to assume responsibility over the enforcement of the standards.

Welcoming participants to the forum, Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Country Co-ordinator of the Ghana Office of the Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) International, 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, 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.
In his remarks, a retired Supreme Court Judge and Chairman for the occasion, Dr Justice Date-Baah, noted that a vibrant consumer protection regime was developing in Ghana which required a sustained action and urged CUTS Ghana not to relent in its efforts at championing the cause of consumer rights.

Dr Justice Date-Baah said enforcement of consumer rights would enhance the quality of production and contribute to the development of the Ghanaian economy. He said it was his expectation that the Broadcasting Bill, if passed into law, would place some public service obligations on the media to promote the cause of consumer rights.

The forum, which was held on the theme: ‘It is Time to Pass the Consumer Protection Law’, was organized, as part of its policy dialogue series, by CUTS Ghana— a registered is 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..

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