Minister highlights consumer protection issues

Johannesburg – Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has called on the National Consumer Protection Regulators to join hands in addressing consumers’ concerns.

Davies addressed delegates at the Consumer Protection Conference on Tuesday, hosted by the National Consumer Tribunal in partnership with the National Consumer Commission and the National Credit Regulator, in Sandton.

He pointed out that consumers were facing tough times in the marketplace and said: “It is our duty and constitutional obligation to protect the rights of consumers through enforcing the law and monitoring them.”

Davies said that if the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT), the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) combined their resources to address consumer protection issues, “it can lead to major positive results”.

The conference, he said, “came at a time when the global economic situation was impacting South Africa in a manner that it would be difficult to sustain reasonable growth and maintain higher employment”.

The conference’s theme was “Towards cohesive and comprehensive consumer protection in the market” and its aim was to “clarify the roles of key consumer protection stakeholders, the adoption of the co-ordinated, cohesive and comprehensive approach to enforcement of consumer protection laws to ensure optimal redress for consumers”.

He said a possible outcome of this economic downturn would “lead to temptation by suppliers of goods and credit providers to cut corners to address the bottom line without checking credit affordability of consumers”.

This needed to be preempted and Davies challenged delegates to “engage and deliberate constructively on the issues at hand” and appealed to them to come up with significant recommendations which would improve the consumer protection regime in South Africa.

He added that there would be an “increase in demand of the services rendered by the NCT, NCC and NCR” and mentioned that “a coordinated consumer model by the three entities in this regard is needed”.

The two-day Consumer Protection Conference is taking place from February 23-24 at the Protea Hotel Balalaika in Sandton.

African News Agency

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