Economic Affairs responses to Rock Morris


PRESS RELEASE: As the Supreme Law of the land, Article 77 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas provides for the allocation of portfolios to Ministers and thus charges said Ministers with certain responsibilities in relation to the business of the Government of The Bahamas.

Prior to the last Election, matters of Consumer Welfare were under the portfolio of the Minister responsible for Labour, and consequently housed under that Ministry’s provisions and resources.

That is to say, the Consumer Protection Commission was located at Charlotte House with the Ministry of Labour and separately, the Consumer Affairs Unit (i.e. Price Control) was located on Carmichael Road with the Department of Labour.

Following the change in Administration in September 2021, and pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the portfolios assigned to Ministers were reallocated and later Gazetted.

According to the Extraordinary Official Gazette dated 8th October 2021, matters of Consumer Welfare were assigned to the Minister responsible for Economic Affairs, Senator the Honourable Michael B. Halkitis.

Pursuant to this Administration’s Blueprint for Change and Economic Plan, a key deliverable is to strengthen and enhance Consumer Protection. In fact, the Consumer Protection Bill 2022 was laid in the House of Parliament for a First Reading today – Wednesday 24th May 2023.

Thus, demonstrating this Administration’s commitment to the protection of the rights of the consumer.

Moreover, beyond the reform of the legislative framework, as the responsible Minister, Senator Halkitis has already taken initial steps to improve Consumer Welfare.

Firstly, a respective organizational gap analysis and needs assessment has been performed in relation to the Consumer Affairs Unit. It was determined that the legislative framework, human capital, physical and financial resources needed to improve to support Government’s processes in relation to Consumer Welfare. As a result, we have focused on meeting consumer expectations by ensuring quality, consistency, and effectiveness in the execution of our responsibilities.

Secondly, we have initiated the aggressive recruit of new hires. These new inspectors were engaged to ensure that there was adequate manpower to enforce the provisions of The Price Control Act 1971 and its Regulations in addition to The Consumer Protection 2006 and its Regulations. In light of this, the current location of the Consumer Affairs Unit and the Consumer Protection Commission, respectively, were found to be inadequate and non-conducive work environments to effect the necessary changes and improvements. Additionally, it was only reasonable to locate those respective agencies in the same physical building, bearing in mind that they are both concerned with consumer protection. This was done to not only improve accessibility by the public to both agencies but also to improve efficiency while minimizing waste and delays.

Of particular note, the Ministry of Labour and Immigration required the full use of their physical space and could no longer accommodate the Consumer Affairs Unit and Consumer Protection Commission.

The Government of The Bahamas’ acquisition of appropriate and proper physical accommodations for its agencies, as well as the execution of lease agreements, conforms to all policy and procedures as mandated by the Ministry of the Public Service. The lease agreement relating to the new physical accommodations of the Consumer Protection Commission and the Consumer Affairs Unit was executed in conformity with the established protocols. The details of outfitting for occupancy are guided and implemented by these same protocols and policies.

The Minister of Economic Affairs, Senator the Honourable Michael B. Halkitis, states emphatically and unequivocally that he does not now own nor hold, nor has he previously owned or held any interest in any property being leased by Government of The Bahamas or any of its agencies.