By Omar Bah & Baba Sillah
The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) recently trained 20 Gambian journalists from both the print and electronic media on the consumer protection Act at the Officers Mess in Kotu.
The day-long training was centred on the GCCPC competition Act 2007, Consumer Protection Act 2004 and essential Commodities Act 2015.
In his opening remarks, the executive director GCCPC, Amadou Ceesay said the GCCPC is an independent public institution established and mandated by the law to promote competition in the supply of goods and services by prohibiting collusive agreements and bid rigging, investigating and controlling other types of restrictive agreements among others.
“The Consumer Protection Act 2014 mandates us to protect consumers from unfair and misleading market conduct, establishment of Consumer Tribunals to deal consumer complaints and connected matters. The Essential Commodities Act 2015 also mandates us to jointly regulate in the interest of the general public, the importation, distribution and retailing of essential commodities,” he said.
He said the commission is also mandated to curb anti-competitive practices and promote competition in all sectors of the economy, to ensure the availability and affordability of essential commodities, protect and promote consumer welfare in the Gambia market and as well as to advocate and raise public awareness on the work of the commission.
“Putting all these factors into consideration, we believe that media practitioners have a critical role to play to ensure that the benefits of competition/consumer protection accrue to the consumers by keeping them informed. We believe that media advocacy can help raise awareness of both role and actions of the GCCPC as well as the benefits of addressing anti-competitive behaviours.”
He said to be fully effective, a competition policy must be supported by a “culture of competition”, where the objectives of competition are widely understood and form a natural part of the background to decisions by government, firms and consumers.
“The media is central in this. It is thus imperative that you understand what we do and why, so as to keep the public informed,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the President of the Gambia Press Union, Emil Touray said it he is happy the Union is associated with such a laudable initiative, saying “the training will go a long way to help journalists upgrade their knowledge in the areas of consumer protection acts.”
“It is my institution’s view that the issues of consumer protection require the attention of the country’s media, but for that to happen the media has to have first-hand information on issues related to consumer protection, which I think makes this training very important and timely, given the competition of businesses that is expected to surface in the new dispensation,” he said.