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National Consumer Protection Policy launched

2021-09-23  Edgar Brandt

National Consumer Protection Policy launched
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Consumers are the largest economic grouping in Namibia and some two-thirds of all spending in the country are from consumers. As such, and in government’s recognition of the buying power of consumers, the trade minister, Lucia Iipumbu, yesterday officially launched the National Consumer Protection Policy, which seeks to protect vulnerable consumers and secure an even playing field for both businesses and consumers. 

“ The Consumer Protection Policy constitutes important measures to counter some of the worst effects of poverty on Namibian 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. 

She added that an effective framework for consumer protection is indispensable to the attainment of Namibia’s development aspirations and is a necessary supplement to the country’s constitutional framework that is committed to the wellbeing of its citizens. 

The Consumer Protection Policy provides for the establishment of an effective institutional and legal framework for information, redress and enforcement that promotes the economic interest of consumers. 

At yesterday’s launch, the trade ministry acknowledged existing interventions aimed at protecting consumers’ rights by various institutions such as the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), the Bank of Namibia, the health ministry, the Namibia Standards Institute and the Namibia Competition Commission, but noted the need for a comprehensive national legal framework. The newly launched policy thus seeks to provide harmonised standards and principles pertaining to consumer protection. 

The policy states that the need for consumer protection is directly linked to the level of a country’s economic development. “This relationship exists because more complex consumer transactions allow the seller to take advantage of the information asymmetries associated with such products, As the Namibian economy continues to develop, more complex consumer products are being introduced thus increasing the possibility of consumer confusion and misunderstanding. Accordingly, market globalisation and the increased prevalence of the internet economy further the need for consumer protection laws in Namibia,” 

reads the rationale for the policy. 

Also at yesterday’s event, the deputy trade minister, Verna Sinimbo, noted that the implementation of the national policy requires a designated consumer protection office charged with the responsibility to collaborate with all stakeholders in order to ensure consumers feel protected in all business sectors. 

To achieve this, Sinimbo explained, the trade ministry’s existing division of Consumer Protection and Internal Market Regulation has been seized with this responsibility. 

“Let me assure you that the ministry will also continue to liaise with all relevant offices, ministries, agencies and sector regulators to form part of the consumer protection legal framework implementation. The framework serves as a yardstick for the Consumer Protection Office to implement this Policy and thereby ensure that consumers are effectively protected against Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP). Noteworthy, the establishment of cost-effective redress mechanisms, consumer education and information dissemination, consumer complaint receipt and capturing mechanisms, receiving and resolving of consumer complaints are some of the tasks to be executed by the consumer protection officer towards effective implementation of this policy,” said Sinimbo.

2021-09-23  Edgar Brandt

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