Daily Graphic Editorials
Consumer Protection: Need for robust legislation
In recent years, consumer protection has become an increasingly important issue in the global economy.
The need for a robust legal framework to protect consumers from unfair practices and exploitation is widely acknowledged.
Unfortunately, the current legal framework in Ghana is inadequate to address the myriad of challenges faced by consumers.
In response to this, the government has proposed a new bill to Parliament, which seeks to strengthen consumer protection in the country.
The proposed bill seeks to ensure that consumers’ rights are clearly defined and that companies are held to account for any wrongdoing. It also seeks to provide consumers with the necessary remedies when their rights are violated.
That is why the recent statement by the ‘Caretaker’ Minister of Trade and Industry, Samuel A. Jinapor, on the proposed Consumer Protection Bill on the floor of Parliament is welcome news for all Ghanaians.
The increasing prevalence of online shopping and the emergence of new technologies have made it easier than ever for consumers to access goods and services.
However, this convenience comes with a cost as it can leave consumers vulnerable to exploitation and scams.
It is therefore important that consumers are aware of their rights and the laws governing consumer protection.
Also, the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Ghana's role as the host of the AfCFTA Secretariat makes the consumer protection law even more important.
Therefore, it is imperative that the Government, Cabinet and the House fully support the passage of the consumer protection law when the time comes.
In anticipation of the Consumer Rights Day, the Minister has revealed that the new bill, when passed, will create a Consumer Protection Authority to facilitate consumer redress, establish codes of practice on advertising and labelling, educate consumers on their rights, strengthen consumer-oriented organisations and ensure effective representation of consumers on decision-making bodies.
The Minister further identified jurisdictional conflict among the various regulators on consumer protection, a lack of consumer awareness, lack of access to the courts and absence of low-cost, quick, and accessible fora and methods for resolution of consumer complaints, as some of challenges with consumer protection in the country that would be addressed by the new bill.
The Daily Graphic is of the conviction that such a bill, if passed, will go a long way to protect the rights of consumers, promote competition and ensure regional integration through digital trade and e-commerce.
Already, the Minister has urged Parliament to support the bill when presented to the House, which has been met with optimism by Members of Parliament from both sides of the House.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Alban Bagbin, has commended the Minister for his efforts and called on other Ministers to follow suit by constantly updating the House on their respective ministries.
The buy-in of Members of Parliament from both sides of the House, and the Speaker, makes it evident that the proposed Consumer Protection Bill, when passed, will be a major milestone in ensuring fair trading and protecting the rights of consumers in the country.
Indeed, it is encouraging to see that the government is taking steps to protect consumers.
The Daily Graphic therefore urges Parliament to pass the proposed bill into law without delay as it is an important step in ensuring that consumers’ rights are safeguarded.
Among other things, the proposed bill is an important step in the right direction because of its novelty in the West African sub region and could be a prototype for other countries that seek to follow suit.
It is essential that the government continues to take proactive steps to protect consumers and provide the needed leadership that brings sanity into the business space.
We must ensure that consumers are able to make informed decisions and that they are not taken advantage of.
We must also ensure that businesses are held accountable for any wrongdoings.
Only then can we ensure that consumers are protected from unfair practices and exploitation.