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Consumer Protection office to implement new policy

2021-09-27  Edgar Brandt

Consumer Protection office to implement new policy
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The primary institution mandated to implement the National Consumer Protection Policy launched last week is the Consumer Protection Office in the trade ministry. The office is tasked with consumer protection and internal market regulation, hence this division will oversee the implementation of the policy and finalisation of the envisaged Consumer Protection Legal Framework.

Explaining the intricacies of the policy launched by trade minister Lucia Iipumbu last week, ministerial spokesperson Elijah Mukubonda told New Era the office will implement the policy and the legal framework once finalized, by effectively implementing and enforcing the Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP) Principles. 

“To achieve the objectives set out in the policy, the division will establish cost-effective redress mechanisms or strengthening of consumer education and information dissemination, designing of consumer complaints receipts and capturing mechanisms, and receiving and resolving of consumer complaints. The Consumer Protection Office will liaise with relevant government entities and sector regulators to ensure that the consumer feels protected in all sectors of business,” said Mukubonda. 

He further noted that the trade ministry is the custodian of the policy and ultimately oversees its implementation plan. Said Mukubonda: “The monitoring and evaluation of the progress in implementing the policy rest with the ministry. Institutions involved in the implementation of activities under this policy will be responsible for providing progress updates at least bi-annually to the ministry for consolidation into one progress report.” 

The main objective of the National Consumer Protection Policy (NCPP) is to encourage both domestic and international consumers to invest and participate in domestic economic growth and prosperity. Thus, laws are designed to increase the transparency of consumer market transactions and decrease incentives for engaging in deceptive or unfair practices. 

Mukubonda explained now that the policy is effectively enforced, an envisaged increase in the confidence of consumers, sellers and investors in the openness and fairness of consumer markets is anticipated to increase economic activity. The NCPP also aims to enhance consumer rights through access to comprehensive information on the products and services offered while also advocating for ethical behaviour in promoting these products and services. Moreover, the policy seeks to protect vulnerable consumers and secure an equitable environment for businesses. 

The policy has been approved by Cabinet, which further directed the trade ministry to work closely with the justice ministry to ensure the promulgation of the Consumer Protection Act.

When launching the policy on 22 September 2021, the trade minister noted that progress is being made on the Consumer Protection Bill for which a layperson’s draft Bill has been crafted.

“ The Consumer Protection Policy constitutes important measures to counter some of the worst effects of poverty on Namibia’s citizens. The policy seeks to protect vulnerable consumers and secure an even playing ground for all businesses to ensure promotion and protection of the rights of consumers, and to ensure unfair trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of consumers in any market or transaction are monitored, controlled and prohibited at the national level and in all possible situations. Thus, this policy equally empowers consumers to navigate the marketplace from an equal and informed position of power and influence,” said Iipumbu. 

2021-09-27  Edgar Brandt

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