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Consumer watchdog hosts three-member delegation

Fiilipe Naigulevu
Friday, April 28, 2017

THE Consumer Council of Fiji is this week hosting a three-member delegation from its Tongan counterparts in continuing efforts to promote networking in consumer protection at a regional level.

The delegation, which comprises staff members of the Consumer Affairs Division under the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour in Tonga, are here for a week to understudy the work of the council and to take part in hands-on training sessions.

Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar, in a statement yesterday, said this was the second time for them to host attach├ęs from Tonga.

"The objective of the attachment is to enhance the skills and capacity building of the staff of the council and Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour, Tonga," she said.

"It is envisaged that the knowledge exchange and policy transfer will empower the delegates to embark deeper into consumer affairs in their country."

While the attachment has been initiated and funded by the Tongan ministry, Ms Kumar said during the period the delegates would be provided with adequate information and knowledge on the roles and functions of the council.

"They will get practical experience on the market surveys, price checks, complaints handling and campaign activities conducted by the council on a regular basis. Learning by doing will certainly boost confidence in dealing with policy makers, consumers and traders in any marketplace," she said.

"Previously, the council has had delegates from Vanuatu, Kiribati, New Caledonia and Tonga who were attached to comprehend the significance of consumer protection and consumer organisation at the national level."

Ms Kumar said they hoped that such study tours would be the catalyst for change in Pacific Island Countries.

"It is important to note that Consumer Council of Fiji is the only consumer organisation in the South Pacific region after Australia and New Zealand," she said.

"It is anticipated that the week-long attachment will greatly enhance the skills of the delegates who can then filter the information to their colleagues and promote establishment of consumer organisation similar to the council.

Ms Kumar added that the knowledge gained would further allow the delegates to combat unfair trade practices and lobby for policy change to create a fair marketplace for the consumers in Tonga.

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