NCPC Concludes Briefing on Consumer Protection Issues with Stakeholders and Business Community

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

As part of its efforts to address consumer protection issues in the country, the National Consumer Protection Commission (NCPC) concluded a one-day briefing with stakeholders, consumers and members of the business community on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The event, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Conference Hall on Tower Hill in Freetown, aimed to discuss and find solutions to pressing consumer protection concerns.

Addressing the gathering, Frank Martin, Manager of the Metrology Department at the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, emphasized that the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau was established to safeguard consumer interests.

He highlighted the Bureau’s collaboration with the Consumer Protection Unit, now recognized as a civil society organization, underscoring its commitment to quality infrastructure akin to the Ghana Standards Authority in Ghana.

He elaborated on the pillars of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau which includes standards of which he compared standards to laws essential for maintaining order in society, explaining that without standards, chaos would ensue. The Bureau’s establishment ensures the protection of consumers through well-defined standards, he informed.

He added that Metrology is another pillar which focuses on accurate measurements crucial for maintaining consistency and correctness in various processes and that the Metrology Department sets the measurement requirements to prevent errors and ensure precision.

Frank Martin outlined the three divisions within the pillar of Conformity Assessment: testing, inspection and certification, adding that testing ensures that products meet set standards through rigorous examination, furthering that inspection conducted at production points, import locations, and other relevant sites are geared to verify compliance.

He pointed out that certification finalizes the process by certifying products and systems that meet the standards which he said involves market surveillance in collaboration with the National Consumer Protection Commission to address issues like expired or substandard products.

Frank Martin acknowledged the challenges faced by the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau but assured that efforts are ongoing to manage and overcome those obstacles. He reiterated the Bureau’s dedication to improving consumer protection and maintaining high standards in the marketplace.

Lawrence Landi Bassie, Chief Executive Officer of the National Consumer Protection Commission (NCPC), highlighted the challenges faced by Sierra Leoneans, including unfair trade practices and widespread poverty, which necessitate value for money on essential goods and services.

He added that the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) established the NCPC through Act No. 7 of the National Consumer Protection Act 2020 to place consumers at the center of decision-making, ensuring a fair and transparent complaints process benefiting both citizens and the economy.

He maintained that the mission of the Commission is to protect and promote consumer welfare in the economy for the overall benefit of all Sierra Leoneans with the vision to be a world-class Commission in protecting and promoting consumer interests and contributing to maximizing the performance of the economy.

Lawrence Bassie elaborated on the legal foundation of the NCPC quoting Section 3 (1) and (2) of the National Consumer Protection Act 2020 which he said established the NCPC as a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

He disclosed that the functions of the Commission include monitoring consumer markets of which he added that the NCPC has developed a systematic approach for ongoing monitoring of consumer markets, assessing conditions, and identifying areas for improvement saying such involves collaboration with relevant stakeholders to gather market intelligence.

He pointed out that another function of the Commission is research and policy enhancement, stating that the NCPC conducts in-depth research on existing consumer protection policies, identifies gaps and proposes amendments or new policies as needed. According to him, the Commission regularly reviews international best practices in consumer protection.

“In terms of dissemination of Consumer Information, the NCPC is developing consumer education materials and utilizing various communication channels to inform the public about consumer rights and obligations,” he pointed out adding that the briefing is one such channels and that the NCPC will continue to organize awareness campaigns and workshops for consumers.

In her keynote address, Fatmata Wurie, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, emphasized the importance of consumer protection and the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of consumers in Sierra Leone.

Madam Wurie underscored the importance of World Consumer Rights Day, initially established by President Kennedy in 1962 and observed annually on March 15th. She noted that the Sierra Leonean Government, under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, recognizes this day as a vital opportunity to promote consumer rights and safety.

She praised President Bio’s vision for transforming consumer protection in the country, aligning with his broader goal of human capital development, highlighting the NCPC’s role in addressing consumer grievances and ensuring fair practices in the marketplace.

The Deputy Minister stressed that the agency provides a platform for citizens to voice concerns about pricing, safety, and consumer rights, fulfilling a long-standing need in Sierra Leone.

She also acknowledged the tireless efforts of Lawrence Landi Bassie, Chief Executive Officer of the National Consumer Protection Commission (NCPC), whose leadership at the NCPC has been instrumental in advocating for consumer rights. Fatmata Wurie reiterated the significance of the National Consumer Protection Act of 2020, which safeguards consumer interests and promotes a fair and competitive marketplace.

Madam Wurie concluded her address by urging all citizens to utilize the resources and support offered by the NCPC, encouraging collaboration to enhance consumer protection in Sierra Leone.

She praised the collective efforts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the NCPC and the broader community in advancing consumer rights and fostering an equitable business environment.



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