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Sensitization on consumer protection bill underway

Mar 7, 2012, 2:19 PM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

With the technical and financial support from Tradecom facility, the Gambia Competition Commission under the Ministry of Trade on 5 March 2012 commenced a three-day sensitization forum on consumer protection bill underway at Senegambia Beach Hotel in Kololi.

In his official opening remarks, Alhaji T.S.A Njie, chairman of the Gambia Competition Commission (GCC), underscored the significance of the meeting.

He added that the sensitization training by experts on the substantive areas of Competition Law enforcement aimed at building human and institutional capacity of the GCC.

Mr Njie noted that some of the deliverables expected from the project include the assessment of the status of enforcement of the competition bill for a level-playing field in key sectors, with specific emphasis to focus on the position of foreign investors.

The three-day sensitization training on consumer protection covered substantive areas in competition law such as introduction to competition policy and law; issues of enforcement of competition law; fundamentals of abuse of dominance; fundamentals of merger control; rules on investigation, deception of consumers, abuses among others.

The project also has a component for capacity building development areas on such issues as substantive principles, case management, analysis and investigation, including training of trainer’s component and providing technical advisory services to the GCC management for effective implementation of the programmes and activities of the GCC.

He urged the participants to scrutinize the draft bill to ensure it reflects “the true picture of what is happening currently” as far as consumer protection is concerned.

For his part, Amadou Ceesay, executive secretary of the GCC, said the draft legislation seeks to cover the basics of consumer protection including misleading advertising and deceptive trade practices, along with defining the expected protection for consumers and the obligations of suppliers and providers.

Mr. Ceesay said that standards for physical safety and facilitating and enforcing the removal of harmful products from the market are included.

The draft has drawn from both the African model law on consumer protection and other internationally accepted norms concerning consumer safety, he said.

It proposes provisions of the propriety, which depends on the existence of other laws or institutions of The Gambia.

“The draft bill reflects an effort to align international standards with the particular characteristics of the economy and legal system of The Gambia,” he said.

In this regard, it focuses on market behaviour that is most likely to be found in smaller developing and least-developed economies.

According to him, this is a national issue that targets everyone and the need to protect the consumer is paramount and its importance cannot be over emphasised.

Mr. Ceesay also said that the forum will avail the participants the opportunity to be grounded on the substantive areas of consumer protection with a view to making it fit the Gambian context.

He noted that it is expected that the feedbacks and comments that emerged during the sensitization meeting will be incorporated in the draft bill and later validated and endorsed.

Prof. Prentiss Cox, former Minnesota Assistant Attorney General and Clinical Professor of Law, University of Minnesota, on a PowerPoint lecture talks about principles of consumer protection law and the need to have consumer protection laws.

He also spoke at length on the difference between consumer protection law and competition law.

He also talked about the standards versus rules in relation to misrepresenting product quality, price, omitting safety concerns.