By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC), on Wednesday 27th September 2017, trained Magistrates on the key mandate of the Commission. These are the Competition Act of 2007, Consumer Protection Act of 2014 and the essential Commodities Act of 2015, in order to enhance fair competition among business and safeguard the rights of consumers in the country.
The Consumer Protection Law will enhance consumer’s welfare by ensuring that businesses run their practices legally and fairly in regard to consumer markets. The consumer protection law decreases the power and influence of the monopolies and ensures that consumers become concern of businesses.
Mr. Amadou Ceesay, the Executive Secretary of GCCPC in his opening remarks said the Commission is an enforcement agency for the Competition Act 2007. “We prevent agreements or mergers which substantially lessen competition, prevent cartels and prevent the misuse of market power for the purpose of damaging competition,’’ he said. The competition law he said, is essentially about protecting the competition process. Mr. Ceesay highlighted that GCCPC is the national consumer advocate in making sure that consumers are not misled; that they have a role to prevent unconscionable conduct between businesses and consumers as enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act 2014. He said it is pertinent to state that they enforce the Consumer Protection Act 2014 through the Consumer Protection Tribunal located at the Bundung Magistrates Court under the chairmanship of Magistrate Mbye; that GCCPC administers the Essential Commodities Act 2015 with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Regional Integration. The objective of this Act he said is to ensure the availability and affordability of essential commodities. He held that the stakeholders meeting will enlighten members of the bench on the opportunity to have a sound understanding of the Competition Act 2007 and the Consumer Protection Act of 2014 and to know the key concept of Competition and Consumer Law. In conclusion, he said GCCPC is committed to ensure that all stakeholders are adequately trained in the substantive areas of competition and consumer protection.
Justice Awa Bah representing the Justice Ministry in her keynote address said when Consumer Protection is mentioned, it means “we should protect ourselves and the people who are out there.’’ She said consumer protection is here to protect people especially when they have issues with suppliers and consumers and are moved for settlement to the Consumer Protection Tribunal which is the Subordinate Courts. She encouraged the magistrates to make good use of the training because of the relevance it has to their work as judicial officials.