By Alhagie Sora
The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) on Thursday 27th October 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) meant to jointly work together to regulate the issues surrounding their domain.
The meeting, held at Senegambia Beach Hotel, was meant to ease the operation of the two institutions on consumer protection issues and regulations especially on advertisement regulation and consumer complaints. After the singing of the MoU, presentations were done on the Consumer Protection Act 2014, the Advertisement Regulations, and the new PURA complaints management system.
Mr. Amadou Ceesay the Executive Secretary of GCCPC, addressing the gathering cited the importance of the various instrument such as Advertisement regulations, consumer Protection Act of 2014 among other national instrument.
He said that the GCCPC and PURA share common goals so coming together to have an MoU between the two institutions as this is a step in the right direction. “With the MoU, we will work to appropriately identify issues of concern to both institutions and establish a framework that avoids duplication of efforts.”
In her key note address the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Mrs Naffi Barry expressed her delight on the MoU and indicated that since advertisements are meant to promote a product or service, ensuring fair play in the game is necessary. PS Barry further noted that the Consumer Protection Act is the only law that gives the consumers the right to seek redress including compensation for any loss or injury caused as a result of an advertisement through a specialized Consumer Tribunal Court. She revealed that section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act 2014 gives comprehensive details on unfair trade practices while section 12 of the same Act gives the Tribunal power to order for the amendment of the content of any statement in an advertising message considered false and misleading.
She stressed that the influence of advertisement on consumer’s choice is undeniable and as such misleading and false advertisements are not just unethical; but they distort competition and consumer choice. It further violates several basic rights of consumers to information, choice and protection against unsafe goods and services as well as unfair trade practices, she said, noting that Free flow of information of goods and services is one fundamental aspect to market economy.
“Advertisement may adversely affect market performance when businesses use it to transmit deceptive or fraudulent messages of which reasonable consumers are induced to rely on to their detriment,” he added.
Mr. Solo Sima, representing the Director General of PURA, expressed his delight for the MoU and optimism that if it works well it will serve interest of the consumers.