Dr. Harris Wants Government to Establish Consumer Affairs Tribunal

Mr. Harris was at the time reviewing the success of the observance of World Consumer Day, held last week and marked by various events over a week-long period in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Dr. Harris called on the general public to “make special efforts by reading the [law] Acts, by listening to programs, by asking questions about issues that relate to their rights, pricing and the offerings of competitors.”

He stated that local firms have also been encouraged to do more, to offer better service to customers. One targeted area of interest, said Harris, is utility providers.

“Are consumers being treated fairly with respect to … electricity and water?

He said that there should be “measurable indicators” to gather a “consumer satisfaction perspective, in addressing the Electricity Department on St. Kitts.”

“I think it will be good … for the Electricity Department to begin to engage the public in terms of what differences there are in improvements and quality assurances, they are doing, which will redound to the benefit of the consumer,” he again stressed, while suggesting each local company establish a consumer charter that is known publicly and is insisted upon by management

Are consumers being treated fairly vis-a-vis telephone providers and the frequency with which their calls drop?” Minister Harris questioned, adding that he has asked the National Telecommunications Regulatory Committee (NTRC) to review existing quality provisions for such services and other consumer protection issues.

As re reflected on the importance of last week’s celebrations, Harris said that while he is pleased with the increased awareness surrounding local activities for World Consumer Rights Day, more must be done in a sustained way to empower the public.

“We still have a road to travel and that will come as we do more [public] events,” he explained, during comments aired on this week’s edition of SKNIS’ radio magazine Perspectives. Minister Harris said that activities held last week, including visits to schools and manufacturing companies as well as a financial expo in Independence Square, were geared towards the important task of consumer education.

“It was one of the reasons why I had recommended that instead of having a day celebration [on March 15], let us look at a week and maybe next year we look at a month,” he emphasized.

Local firms have also been encouraged to do more to offer better service to customers. One targeted area of interest is utility providers.

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