Basseterre, St. Kitts: The efforts of St Kitts and Nevis for the process of reintroduction and eventually passing the CARICOM Consumer Protection Bill will enhancing the landscape for all the buyers of goods and services, who are standing to benefit from increased protection steps in the twin-island Federation as well as participating member states.
The Bill had its 1st reading in St Kitts & Nevis Parliament during the month of August 2021, but there were no further readings. The dissolution of the Parliament on May 10, 2022, added that the Bill would have to be reintroduced as well as debated in a new session of parliament. Consumer Affairs Minister, Dr Denzil Douglas, said that the government is intending to do so and pass the Bill in 2023.
It is to be noted that on Wednesday’s edition of the radio & television programme InFocus, Paul Queeley, Director of Department of Consumer Affairs, added that the passage of the Bill would be going to empower consumer protection.
While noting that it will likely permit for citations to be issued by the Consumer Affairs official, he said that, “With this new laws, it will be going to be a big step from one that we are using right now. If we go into supermarkets, and you do not have your prices displayed, fines.”
He further added that, “If you have expired goods on your shelves, we could fine you. If it is a situation where you are overall in breach of the Consumer Affairs Act, and you do not want to refund a customer their money for an item they purchased, we can also fine you for that right there.”
Notably, CARICOM Consumer Protection Bill will also assist in the rising trend of online shopping. The protection rules will extend to goods & services within CARICOM, where the harmonized law is enacted. For example, Queeley mentioned that if someone from St Kitts & Nevis purchases windows from another member state & it is found that the product is faulty when it comes, there will be an avenue for redress.
Director Queeley said that, “Since we are functioning under the same legislation, we will be able to contact the [Consumer] agency [overseas], wherever they purchased the windows, & they can investigate the case on that end for us and bring a resolution to the situation.”
The passage of the CARICOM Consumer Protection Bill will help the Federation to transition into the modern era of consumer protection.