NASSAU| Prime Minister Philip Davis announced a comprehensive Consumer Protection Bill 2023 in Parliament today, promising significant updates to current laws, aiming to strengthen consumer rights and fair trade practices.
The PM, delivering a comprehensive speech to the House, emphasized the critical need for the bill, stating that it’s a testament to the government’s commitment to the Bahamian people. “This bill is for all Bahamians, from the young mother budgeting for her family’s groceries, to the retiree investing his hard-earned money in a new home appliance,” said PM Davis.
Addressing the rapidly evolving landscape of global markets and digital transactions, the Prime Minister pointed out the pressing need for robust, updated consumer protection laws. The bill focuses on enhancing transparency, ensuring healthy competition, and modernizing consumer complaint procedures, in addition to many other comprehensive measures.
This proposed legislation is a significant step in addressing potential abuses in the marketplace, introducing stringent provisions against deceptive conduct, harassment, and coercion. It’s a critical move to protect consumers from misleading marketing and exploitative business practices, such as pyramid selling schemes.
In an important advancement for the digital age, the bill also includes provisions for overseeing distance selling and payment arrangements, to guarantee fairness in online commerce. The proposal allows consumers to lodge complaints and give virtual testimonies, greatly improving accessibility and convenience.
One of the significant changes under the new bill includes mandatory licensing and registration of service providers, putting more onus on businesses to operate within legal boundaries and uphold a culture of accountability.
PM Davis asserted that the bill aligns with the government’s Blueprint for Change and Economic Plan, emphasizing that the measures reflect their belief that consumer protections are essential to economic development, poverty reduction, and social well-being.
The bill also expands the powers of the Minister to make necessary regulations to protect consumers effectively, offering the flexibility to respond to emerging marketplace challenges swiftly.
The Prime Minister concluded his address with a hopeful message, saying, “Through this Bill, we aim to empower consumers to make informed decisions, to assert their rights, and to seek redress when those rights are violated. This, in turn, will encourage businesses to uphold the highest standards of integrity, fostering a vibrant and fair economy.”
The tabling of the Consumer Protection Bill 2023 is a momentous move towards a more secure, equitable, and prosperous Bahamas. It reflects the Government’s commitment to prioritizing consumer rights and creating a more transparent and accountable marketplace.
The bill is expected to undergo further debate and scrutiny in Parliament before it can be enacted.