(front L-R): Hamida Khan (Nasinu), Premila Kumar (CEO Consumer Council), Vani Vula (Lautoka). (back L-R): Shri Krishan (Rakiraki), Ashok Kumar (Savusavu), John Apanna (Taveuni), Mateo Vianny (Levuka), Mahendra Prasad (Labasa). Photo: CONSUMER COUNCIL OF FIJI.
By ANA SOVA
The Consumer Council of Fiji inducted seven Community Consumer Advisory Group (CCAG) members yesterday.
Initially the CCAG was launched in 2014 with the support of the European Union in continuing efforts to empower and protect consumers, especially the disadvantaged and marginalised ones.
The Advisory group has proven effective and has grown over the years.
The CCAG which has a voluntary membership represents the rural and remote areas of the country.
The seven members are representatives from Savusavu, Taveuni, Levuka, Rakiraki, Lautoka, Labasa and Nasinu.
Consumer Council of Fiji Chief Executive Officer said for a long time now, traders and service providers living in the remote areas continue to take advantage of vulnerable consumers who have no means to defend their rights or voice their concerns.
“The need for CCAG arises where these traders and service providers happen to take advantage of the fact that the consumers in remote areas do not have adequate access to appropriate enforcement agencies and/or redress mechanisms,”
“Therefore, they continue to profiteer off the vulnerable consumers who are already struggling to fully understand their basic consumer rights and responsibilities,” Kumar said.
She said the representatives from various communities will act as the Council’s ‘eyes and ears’.
“The CCAG members have come forward to help the ordinary consumers in their respective communities by informing them about their rights and responsibilities and protecting them from unfair trading practices,” Kumar said.
The members are tasked to provide free support and advice to consumers in their areas who have for a long time now succumbed to the unscrupulous behaviour of the shrewd traders and service providers.
The induction and training workshop was aimed at introducing the new CCAG members on the Roles and Functions of the Council, the work carried out by the organisation which included complaints handling, research and education and awareness raising programmes.
Ms. Kumar said the members can assist the Council and the consumers in protecting the rights and interests of the vulnerable consumers who face difficulty in accessing the services of the Council.
“We are hopeful that with the support of the CCAG members, consumers living in isolated areas will get some relief and will be able to collectively voice their concerns to get value for money,”
“Consumers are encouraged to take full advantage of their CCAG representatives and act in solidarity to create a fair marketplace for all,” she said.