By Benson AFFUL

Government will establish an independent Consumer Protection Authority (CPA), with powers of a High Court, to receive complaints from the public, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, has said.

He said the CPA will have regional and district offices to bring it close to consumers for quick redress.

In addition, he said the CPA will assign roles to relevant bodies to ensure regular monitoring of all regulatory bodies. Funding required for the Authority and its regional offices will be incorporated under the Ministry?s budget.

He said government will also encourage all enterprises to resolve consumer disputes in a fair, expeditious, formal and informal manner — and to establish a voluntary mechanism, including advisory services and informal complaints procedures which can provide assistance to consumers.

?Government will review and reform the existing laws and regulations, as well as the institutions that deal with consumers and consumer interests; like the Food and Drugs Authority, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, Ghana Standards Authority, National Communication Authority among others to make sure that they are given the necessary support for effective delivery.?

He said a consumer protection law will be enacted to streamline the operations of all the agencies involved in consumer protection.

To ensure a transparent and competitive environment in the country, he said government will develop a competition policy and enact a competition law to complement the consumer protection regime.

The Minister was speaking at a stakeholders? consultation workshop on the draft Consumer Protection Policy in Accra.

The Consumer Protection Policy is expected to protect consumers from unfair trade practices which adversely affect their health, safety and economic interests.

?We observe with silent unease the many products and services on the Ghanaian market that are sub-standard and/or not properly labelled, coupled with poor service delivery among other issues.

?The Consumer Protection Policy addresses these and will ensure a fair and sustainable environment for all. The policy also sets clear and sufficient rules on labelling, price-marking, and a code of practice on advertising,? Mr. Iddrisu said.

The Consumer Protection Policy, furthermore, has mechanisms and instruments for speedy redress in a specialised court. This will be complemented by the establishment of ?hotlines? and ?emergency lines? for quick information and response flow, he added.

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