Field day

Bindula Devi, Officer-In-Charge, Consumer Council Of Fiji | Thursday, August 10, 2017
We refer to Donald Singh's letter on "Field day" in The Fiji Times on 08/08.

The council wishes to remind consumers that it is an advocacy organisation and not an enforcement body.

As such, it continues to use the media to create awareness on matters affecting consumer interests.

The council through such a platform educates consumers on emerging consumer issues and laws which affect them.

Not to mention to lobby with policymakers in order to seek reforms in laws and policies apt to consumer needs and wants.

Through our media releases and vigorous campaigns, we also encourage enforcement agencies to take appropriate actions against unscrupulous traders and service providers to ensure a fair marketplace for all.

We do not make mere "fancy speeches and serious statements".

The intention of the council is to make consumer voices heard and safeguard consumer rights at all times. As far as the reduction of duties is concerned, the council is aware that most traders do not normally pass on duty reductions to consumers.

The council conducted a market surveillance prior to the budget announcement and a similar surveillance this month to ascertain whether supermarkets were complying with the duty reductions which came into effect from August 1, 2017.

The survey was done particularly on items which attracted duty reduction including baby wipes (from 32 per cent to 032 per cent).

Through this survey, we have found out that there are few supermarkets that have decreased the price of baby wipes.

However, we still have some supermarkets which have increased their prices while others have kept their prices static.

The council anticipates the enforcement agencies (Fiji Revenue and Customs Service and Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission) to take appropriate actions against the traders who are found breaching the national laws.

It is high time infringement notices were issued to traders who did not pass duty and VAT reductions on to consumers.

The stricter monitoring of prices by the enforcement agencies needs to ensure the Government's intention to reduce the cost of living is passed on to consumers.

The council reiterates that consumers also need to be part of the solution by coming up with evidence of cases where VAT or duty has been wrongfully charged to them.

Aggrieved consumers can call the National Consumer Helpline toll free no. 155 to lodge their complaints.

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