There is a link between competition policy and consumer protection; a recent research by Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) has found.
Senior researcher at NaCC, Taimi Amunkete, pointed out during the Consumer Protection Workshop last week that according to the study, the competition policy and the consumer protection both play a significant role in terms of promoting consumer welfare.
“The link pertains to the protection of consumers in terms of product choice and competitive pricing,” she said.
Currently, Namibia lacks any law and/or policy when it comes to consumer protection, which presents unfairness towards consumers.
The acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Hermine Himarwa on behalf of the MTI Minister, Hage Geingob, said; “Namibia lags behind many southern African countries as it does not have a developed legislation on consumer protection. For this reason, its economy is still characterised with unfair trade practices and very little, if any, recourse for consumers who have been wronged. This leads to exploitation of consumers as they are left with less options, especially given the cost of litigation.”
The Namibian consumer protection was proposed in 2006 to make it a legal framework without any implementation of the law. However, nothing has been implemented yet, because the draft has since been underway.
The NaCC study notes that household consumption in Namibia accounts for a significant portion of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), hence the need for consumer protection.
Amunkete also said that the fact that Namibia is dominated by imports in its trade places it in an unfair position, especially because it still does not empower its consumers through the consumer protection policy to check the products standard.
However, the consumer protection and the competition policy need to be promoted at once as they work towards the same goal, Amunkete added. Competitiveness and development are both necessary to promote consumer welfare in the long run.
Zambian Consumer Protection Commission executive director, Chilufya Sampa, pointed out that Zambia chose to house those two entities (competition policy and consumer protection) together as they enhance the same value.
According to him, if the consumer protection were implemented, trade policy laws would need to be worked on as well, in order to reinforce the implementation of consumer protection.
“Namibia needs to work on the standard products with regard to consumer protection in order to block any sub-standard products coming in from abroad. This is particularly important for a country that is part of regional bodies such as Sacu,” Sampa noted.