To protect consumers from unfair trade practices which adversely affect the health, safety and their economic interests, government has developed a draft Consumer Protection Policy which sets clear rules on labelling, price marking and a code of practice on advertising.
When the policy is approved, an independent Consumer Protection Authority will be established to implement the policy and co-ordinate all consumer activities in collaboration with the regulatory agencies and other relevant bodies.
Furthermore, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) will be adequately resourced to be the main vehicle for education on the rights and responsibilities on products and services while the Ministry will work closely with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to establish consumer advocacy groups such as Consumer Watch Committees at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to monitor the implementation of the policy.
In addition to the policy, the Ministry will develop a Communication Plan for an efficient education on consumer rights, obligations and measures to obtain redress where consumer rights are breached.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister for Trade and Industry (MOTI) made these known in an address delivered on his behalf at a stakeholders' consultation workshop on the draft Consumer Protection Policy in Accra, yesterday.
The workshop was organised by the Consumer Advocacy Centre (CAC), in collaboration with MOTI as part of efforts to educate consumers on their rights and responsibilities.
Mr Iddrisu said in consultation with the Advertisers Association of Ghana, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority and other regulatory authorities, government would facilitate the establishment of the National Advertising Authority under the aegis of MOTI to regulate the advertising industry, its standards and practices.
He disclosed that the Consumer Protection Policy had mechanisms and instruments for delivering speedy redress in a specialised court and would be complemented by the establishment of 'Hotlines' and 'Emergency Lines' for quick information and response flow.
Furthermore, he said, a Consumer Protection Law would be enacted to streamline the operations of all the agencies involved in consumer protection as well as develop a Competition Policy and enact a Competition Law to complement the consumer protection regime, with competition rules to fashion out a fair, transparent and competitive milieu in Ghana.
In a message, the President of the CAC, Prof. Mrs Goski Alabi, said the CAC sought to provide a channel for consumer opinion and representation; serve as a watchdog for consumer interests; and seek redress for consumer complaints.
In addition, Prof Alabi said, the CAC aimed to foster understanding among consumers, producers, suppliers and government; disseminate information widely on consumer issues and on all matters of concern and interest to consumers; and to campaign actively for the enactment of laws, enunciation of policies and the establishment of institutions and mechanisms for the protection and empowerment of consumers and consumer groups.
She said other objectives of CAC were to advance the cause of the consumer, protect consumerism and the development of critical awareness; and to promote responsible and sustainable consumption among Ghanaian consumers.
Prof Alabi disclosed that the Consumer's International (CI), of which CAC is a member, was currently embarking on the campaign on Strengthening Consumer Protection in three West African countries (Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal) for Social and Economic Justice.
She said as a result of this project, the CAC had won a contract funded by OSIWA to execute the project in Ghana, adding that it was some of the project funds that had been used to organise the stakeholders' consultative workshop.
She disclosed that resolutions from a symposium organised to climax World Consumer Rights Day had demanded government to issue a White Paper on the passage of the Consumer Protection Policy six months from March 15, 2013; collaborate with the relevant institutions to ensure that the Consumer Protection Bill was passed by the end of 2014; and to ensure that a Consumer Protection Authority was established soon after the passage of the Bill into law to address consumer protection issues, redress and empowerment.
Source: ISD (G.D Zaney/Raymond Kwofie)