CASTRIES, St Lucia — The 11th European Development Fund (EDF) will provide a new boost to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) commitment to implementing this framework and advance the improvement of conditions for consumers. Under the 11th EDF the OECS will be executing several initiatives aimed at improving the Consumer Protection environment in the region. This includes activities aimed at building capacity and improving efficiency in Consumer Affairs public offices in Member States as well as providing public advocacy support.
Jamaica Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is recognized as a best practice in the region, with well-established databases and online applications for serving consumers. The OECS Commission met with Jamaica’s CAC virtually on October 1, 2020 to discuss their mobile app (which was launched in December 2019) and explore possible areas for collaboration to support Member States in advancing consumer protection in the region. This served as an important point of departure for the work which will be accomplished under the 11th EDF. It sets the groundwork for a much-needed broader set of dialogue involving consumer affairs departments across the OECS.
Director-General of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, sees this collaboration as a critical step to strengthening the business environment in the Eastern Caribbean. He said, “The 11th European Development Fund gives the region an opportunity to advance in critical sectors – one of which is consumer protection. We must ensure that all players in the business sector are represented fully so that we can build a formidable business space in the region.”
The process of realizing a true single economic and financial space, as outlined in the Protocol of the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union (ECEU) necessitates a fully functioning framework in consumer protection. Having recognized this, the OECS Commission is committed to bringing to full operation the Consumer Protection Framework for the OECS which was developed in 2017.
The framework involved research and recommendations for eight Member States Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada. The recommendations covered three areas, legal framework; institutional and operational conditions; and consumer concerns. The framework not only seeks to improve consumer protection in the region, but also aims to harmonize the consumer protection environment in the OECS.
Since then, the OECS has provided support to Member States in developing the legal framework and to date two Member States, Saint Lucia, and Grenada, have passed consumer protection acts.