Consumer Protection Bill Suffers Delay

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A few months ago, Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Hon. Marlon Penn promised that the Consumer Protection legislation which he has been championing for a while will be laid on the table of the House of Assembly by summer. However, on 17 August the House of Assembly was prorogued dashing the Junior Minister’s summer aspirations.

The fact that the Bill was not in the House was addressed by Hon. Penn on 14 August during the Other Business segment of that sitting. While addressing his colleagues the Junior Minister said that from a governmental perspective everything was done to advance the legislation and that aspect rests with the Attorney General’s chambers.

In noting that the Bill already passed through the Committee Cabinet stage the Junior Minister said: “I know Cabinet has made a decision, Hon. Premier to move ahead with the Consumer Protection legislation. It has been in the Attorney General’s chambers now for a few months, and I want to encourage the Attorney General who is sitting with us today that we need to have that legislation brought forward to bring some type of control, some kind of guidance and redress to the commerce market of the BVI.”

The Consumer Protection legislation is expected to protect both business and consumers and Hon. Penn said that he does not understand how such a vital piece of legislation continues to lag behind. He said that he knows that the Bill could be passed with expediency and said that he has noted instances where other bills were passed recently.

“I have seen pieces of legislation that weren’t in the pipeline before this come to this Hon. House, this legislation needs to be shown some level of priority now and I am putting it on public record that we have done the work that we needed to do to ensure that you had what you needed to draft this legislation and you need to bring it to the House of Assembly so the people can get a legislation that can work in their favor. Not just for the consumer but the business sector as well in this Territory,” he said.

Hon. Penn said that the Bill should be passed soon especially in consideration of the issues that surfaced following the hurricanes last year. In recounting matters such as price gouging the Junior Minister said: “Specifically what we experienced a year ago after the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria and the level of gouging and unfair business practices that ensued after those storms, I think it is important Hon. Attorney General for us to have a draft legislation that comes before this House before the end of summer; so that we could at least start the process of approval of such legislation.”  We promised the people this legislation, we’ve done the work to bring it forward.”

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