The Premier Andrew Fahie-led government has said the rising population of the BVI and the inflation concerns stemming from the 2017 hurricanes were some key factors that fueled its push for the Consumer Protection Bill.
The draft bill which is being discussed throughout the territory is projected to return before the House of Assembly on July 23.
“The BVI has transcended to the point where we need these legislations in place. Our population was small at one point in time, and if something went wrong, you could have found Tom because you know where Tom is living,” Fahie said while addressing residents at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College on Wednesday.
“But now the population continues to increase significantly with a diverse population. So most persons don’t know each other like they used to and the protection of persons cannot be based on you know Tom’s mother, and she could discipline him. So now the time comes where legislation has to be put in place to police the businesses and the economy so that persons can have recourse and businesses can have recourse if things are not going correctly,” the Premier added.
Notably, according to Canadian firm Dillon Consulting, the British Virgin Islands is projected to see a population that will exceed 50,000 in the next 20 years.
Consumers to be protected from price gouging
Meanwhile, Senior Policy Analyst in the Premier’s Office Lizette George said the legislation will protect consumers from inflated prices.
“It (the bill) does not address price control. However, it addresses the fact that prices cannot be manipulated in any negative way,” she said.
She further explained: “Let’s say we have a disaster. What that would seek to do is give the minister the authority to put certain regulations in place in terms of ensuring that there is no price gouging. So it does not specifically say price gouging in the act. It only speaks to suppliers are prohibited from manipulating the prices.”
Consultant on Consumer Protection Alyesha de Cotou-Sammy said consumers will also be protected from distributors selling expired products.
She said: “The supplier has to ensure that it (goods) is up to mark. If it is expired, it is not up to mark and you do have recourse in that regard.”
She said consumers will have the right to return it to the store for an exchange, get a refund, among other things.
Sammy further mentioned that many other pieces of legislation will be coming on stream to work in tandem with the Consumer Protection Bill.
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