The Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) held a consumer awareness week in the capital from 24 to 27 September 2012. The week centred around two issues, namely the competitiveness of Namibia and the need for a consumer protection law. The participants included ministries, government institutions, non-government organisations, the media and members of the public.
In the one-day workshop entitled consumer protection, an absolute necessity in Namibia, various aspects of a consumer protection law for Namibia were discussed. The conclusion of the workshop was that everyone agreed a law is necessary and everyone agrees with what should be included.
So what has been the delay in tabling a bill to Parliament?
The Ministry of Trade Industry's Consumer Protection Division had to decide where Consumer Protection should be housed. In other words, should it stay in the Ministry, be a new Commission or be a division of the NaCC.
THAT's Right! The only decision that needs to be made is by whom should the law be regulated.
The Namibia Consumer Protection Group (NCPG) made it clear that this is not sufficient reason to delay the law and fully supports the proposal that the competition law should be a division of the Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC).
For your information, the rest of the article covers what is consumer protection, and what are your rights as a consumer.
What is consumer protection?
Consumer protection consists of various laws and institutions that are designed to:
- Ensure the rights of consumers
- Ensure fair trade competition
- Provide free flow of information in the marketplace
Consumer Protection Laws are thus a form of government regulation which aim to protect the rights of people who spend their money in buying goods and services. For example, the laws may require businesses to provide money-back guarantees or not allow false advertising.
Consumer protection is very closely linked to the idea of "consumer rights" (see the consumer charter later) and to the formation of consumer organisations which can help consumers make better choices or get help with consumer complaints.
Consumer protection laws in some countries deal with a wide range of issues including credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
What are your consumer rights?
The consumer organisations, Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as all the government institutions agree on the following rights of Namibians consumers:
- The right to basic goods and services which guarantee survival. This includes Food,Water, Electricity, Telephone and Internet access.
- The right to be protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous to health and life.
- The right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labelling.
- The right to choose products and services at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
- The right to express consumer interests in the making and execution of government policy.
- The right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
- The right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed consumer.
- The right to live and work in an environment which is neither threatening nor dangerous and which permits a life of dignity and well-being.