During his 1 March Speech from the Throne His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert reaffirmed Government’s promise that the Consumer Protection Bill will be heading to the House of Assembly soon. Repeated calls for such a Bill were made by this newspaper and by the electorate during the last 30 years with successive governments making unfulfilled promises.
His Excellency announced “Madame Speaker, there is unwavering commitment by our Government to introduce a Consumer Protection Bill during this Session to facilitate an attractive business climate with fair business practices.”
Governor Jaspert also mentioned that the proposed consumer protection legislation will provide much needed regulation to business and trade in the Territory: “This Bill will establish the rights of both the consumer and the business and it will encourage a free enterprise market economy,” he said.
In January this year Junior Minister for Trade and Investment, Hon. Marlon Penn who has championed the cause for the legislation announced that he is eager to see the legislation before the House and that the Bill is almost ready: “We were able to get that legislation drafted. There is now a Cabinet paper prepared for Cabinet to make a decision for us to finalize that legislation. The next step now is for Cabinet to make the decision, and then for the Attorney General to finalize the draft legislation to go to the House of Assembly.”
The Junior Minister told reporters that he even told the Premier that he is open to presenting the Bill as a Private Member section of a sitting of the House: “I have even told the Premier that I would do a private members Bill if I need to, because I think it is very important for us to really protect not just the consumers, but to protect the businesses as well because a lot of times the businesses are being accused of things which in fact they are not actually doing.”
Hon. Penn said that Consumer Protection legislation will also protect businesses who are getting blamed for matters beyond their control: “When you look at the cost they have to pay for shipping, and the cost they have to pay for increase in price in a lot of the products since the hurricane… If we have a situation where we can monitor a lot of what is happening within the economy it gives us a better perimeter to see what the shocks are in the community and when persons say to us that businesses are taking advantage we have data to prove that it is so or not so.”
Hon. Penn further disclosed that he will ensure that the Premier receives the draft legislation and mentioned that the intent is to work to ensure that the Bill is ready for 2018.