by Ousman Sillah
A one day training on competition and consumer Protection organised by the Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) was held yesterday, 6 August, 2015 at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.
The training was conducted by Mr. Ian Forester, QC, and Jerome Dickinson, who are two international lawyers with expertise in competition and consumer related laws.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Amadou Ceesay, the Executive Director of GCCPC, said the reason why the competition and consumer bodies are housed in the same roof in The Gambia is because they share the same goal of ensuring fair trade and protecting the interests of consumers. He said the focus and work of his institution is centred around enforcement, advocacy and capacity building.
Mr. Ceesay said capacity building is high on their agenda and hence the series of training being carried out.
The GCCPC Executive Director revealed that Consumer Protection Unit is created as well as the tribunal and that work on the operational processes will soon be published in the gazette.
In her address, Justice Awa Bah said the work that GCCPC is doing is quite timely as it seeks to ensure the protection of the poor person out there. She applauded the Commission for the good work it is doing.
She said the consumer’s lack of purchasing power to buy quality goods should not mean inferior products that compromise health and safety.
Justice Bah noted that the role of the judiciary was to participate in the process of setting up the tribunal to enable the Commission to facilitate the work on one of its key mandates.
She endorsed the ongoing training as key, adding that the Commission needs to prepare very well in terms of acquainting itself with the issues and in addressing the pressing tasks.
“Know your case before going to court,” she advised.
Justice Bah also advised the Commission to be consulting and seeking advice whenever it is necessary and from any level.
She concluded by urging all stakeholders to push their bid in ensuring fair competition and the protection of consumer interests are rights.
The presentations led by Mr. Forester and assisted by Mr. Dickinson addressed many competition and consumer related issues including the following: Who are the consumers most in need of health by the Commission? What are the notorious bad practices? What sanctions for breach are appropriate? Are there consumer protection groups to speak to regularly? Should a forum be established for listening to problems? Do consumers know who to approach? Can the media help in recognition? Are successes reported?
The training was attended by high court judges, legal practitioners, The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB), Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), consumer protection organisations i.e. Consumer Protection Association of the Gambia (CPAG) and Consumer Rights Protection Centre (CRPC), among others.