BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 2, 2023 (SKNIS) – On October 30, 2023, the Federal Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis approved the Consumer Protection Act, 2023, which in effect gave teeth to the Consumer Affairs Department to enforce consumer rights by ensuring the fair and ethical operation of businesses in the Federation.
Senior Minister and Minister with responsibility for Consumer Affairs, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, said an important aspect of the Act is the establishment of a “far-reaching” Consumer Protection Board.
Giving an update on the new law on the most recent edition of InFocus on Wednesday, November 01, Minister Douglas said the Consumer Protection Board will comprise approximately five members with years of experience in relevant fields.
He said, “The Board must have persons who are knowledgeable and experienced in industry matters. Also, persons who are knowledgeable and experienced in commerce; there must be a lawyer who should not have less than seven years of practice, so a relatively experienced person, and it should have another person who is knowledgeable and experienced in public administration. [The Act] also stipulates that the Board should have a person who is knowledgeable and experienced in consumer protection, and we believe that with these guidelines we will have a functional Board.”
Senior Minister Douglas stated further that it is important the Consumer Protection Board consists of persons from both the private and public sectors.
“We are looking for fairness, balance and trust. It is no longer a situation where we are saying from the legislation that you must do this or do that, price control can’t be that etcetera, no. It is a liberalized market of trading that we are doing here, and we would expect that the Government which has spent so much money by giving concessions etcetera to the private sector in different areas, especially manufacturing, that we would be able at the end of the day to rely on them as our business and development partners. So, it has to be a mix between those from the private sector and public sector, and again emphasizing the responsibility of the government, through this legislation, is to ensure that we can do business better with each other,” Dr. Douglas said.
Under the Act, the Consumer Protection Board will be responsible for receiving complaints from the Consumer Affairs Department on overpricing, foreign language labelling, unfair terms, poor quality or damaged goods; monitor the investigations of these complaints and where necessary, seek to resolve disagreements between a consumer and supplier in relation to goods and services.