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Consumer Council of Fiji. Consumer rights and responsibilities. Safe, fair and just marketplace. Ms Premila Kumar Chief Executive Officer. Addressing Inequality and Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Development, 2013 ODN Biennial Conference, 11th - 12th September 2013.

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consumer council of fiji

Consumer Council of Fiji

Consumer rights and responsibilities. Safe, fair and just marketplace

Ms Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer

Addressing Inequality and Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Development, 2013 ODN Biennial Conference, 11th - 12th September 2013

councils role in supporting the poor in fiji
Councils Role in Supporting the Poor in Fiji
  • Consumer Council is there for all consumers but generally poor consumers come to the Council for assistance.

STRATEGIC PLAN

  • “Council protects vulnerable groups such as rural poor, physically and mentally challenged, children and women by identifying and articulating the policy issues that are of importance to them.”
  • Councils watchdog role ensures that unscrupulous traders do not exploit the poor and vulnerable consumers.
un guideline on consumer protection
UN Guideline on Consumer Protection
  • Eight Consumer Rights forms the basis for the Councils work in consumer protection
  • Right to basic needs- ie access to basic goods or services necessary for survival, such as food, water, energy, clothing, health care, education and sanitation
international bill of human rights article 11 1
International Bill of Human Rights: (Article 11 (1)
  • The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, (Article 11 (1) :

“ to the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions )”.

  • These are achievable through effective consumer protection legislation.
consumer policy
Consumer policy
  • Consumer Policy can contribute to:
    • poverty eradication,
    • efficient markets,
    • good governance, and
    • promote human rights.
role of consumer council
Role of Consumer Council
  • Council provides the platform for poor and disadvantage consumers to raise their concerns and seek justice.
  • Council lessen isolation and helplessness faced by poor by providing access to information and representation.
  • The Council focuses on empowerment, consumer legislation, representation and redress to assist the poor to improve their quality of lives and hold policy makers accountable for their actions
representation
Representation
  • To effectively represent poor, we need to know the issues affecting them.
    • Complaints handling
    • Market surveillance
    • Research
  • Information helps in advocacy particularly to develop new policies or when old policies are reviewed.
policy and regulatory reform
Policy and Regulatory reform
  • Council regularly makes submissions on behalf of poor consumers targeting areas where cost of living is high.
  • Some examples of successful lobbying: price control for gas, reduction of e-ticketing card price and minimum top-up amount.
  • Council’s submissions to Govt’s National Budget focuses on essential food items where price increases affects the poor consumers.
submission
Submission
  • Water and sewerage reform submission to the Charter Committee
  • Proposed increase in bus fares- Min of Transport
  • Removal of Price control – Is the Timing Appropriate? - Prime Minister & Minister for Finance & Economic Planning
  • School fees & levies imposed by schools
  • Gas Pricing
market surveillance
Market Surveillance
  • Market surveillance keeps checks on supermarkets and other retailers that poor people frequent .
  • Supermarkets sold discounted substandard food items aimed at the poorer segment of consumers, e.g. cut fruits, expired food items
  • Traders taken to task for unethical practices against Govt food voucher recipients
market surveillance1
Market Surveillance
  • Protects the poor against unsafe/dangerous food items and products e.g. used cooking oil sold cheaply to poor consumers
  • Market surveillance of small dairy/neighbourhood shops that often engage in unfair trade practices e.g. uncertified scales, improper measuring tools for kerosene
research evidence based advocacy
Research, evidence-based advocacy
  • Council uses research and evidence-based advocacy to improve the quality of life of poor consumers. Example: Hire Purchase Report, Money lending research,
  • Regular price and product surveys e.g. monthly supermarket survey
  • Price change of basic food and non-food items, 2006 to 2011
redress to poor
Redress to Poor
  • Poor consumers cannot afford to seek redress on their own accord thus rely on the Council to provide assistance
  • Council’s conciliation role allows poor and disadvantaged consumers, to receive some form of remedy or relief.
  • Small Claims Tribunal
debt management and consumer advisory services
Debt Management and Consumer Advisory Services
  • AusAID Project: “Consumer Financial Protection and Building Credit Competency for Vulnerable Groups”
  • Provides financial advice and debt management to poor consumers who are facing problems with repayments or powerless to deal with powerful banks, hire purchase companies and credit institutions
  • Service is free and targets poor consumers who can’t afford to pay for financial advice or lawyers
  • Help to restructure loans.
consumer empowerment
Consumer Empowerment
  • Consumer empowerment through education, awareness, information dissemination is crucial when consumer protection laws are weak or absent
  • Councils core activity > targeting local communities, the poor and vulnerable
  • Outreach programme ensures that poor consumers are armed with knowledge and information to deal with unscrupulous traders and protect themselves from unfair trade practices
  • Campaigns
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Council plays an important role in enhancing accountability.
  • We monitor implementation of policies and provide feedback on whether policies are working or not.