Consumers are being urged to become financially literate and take charge of their financial transactions. This will enable them to not only follow and track their money or how they spend it but also empower them to become better at planning for the future by saving more of their money.
That outlook formed part of the goal of the two-day workshop on 'promoting consumer protection in the Caribbean' which began Monday morning at the Turtle Beach Resort. The workshop was hosted by Consumer International and funded by the International Development Bank (IDB). Participants from Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, St Vincent and Trinidad & Tobago came together to discuss 'consumer protection' with a special focus on financial services.
Dolsie Allen, President Caribbean Consumer Council and the CEO of Consumer Affairs Commission said the responsibility of educating the consumers on their rights rests with them as agents of consumer protection. She added that consumers also have a responsibility for what happens to them. However, she urged greater collaboration among all those working for greater consumer protection to bring about the success they are all working towards.
She told the participants to let their voices be heard because they have the power.
She gave a personal example which underscored the importance of consumer understanding their rights and responsibilities of financial services and transactions.
Caribbean Project Coordinator of Consumers International, Candice Ramessar noted how advance plans are in Jamaica in terms of the developing a banking code which may assume the role of a consumer bill of rights with regards to banking and services from financial institutions. She said the current state of such services throughout the region does not afford any kind of protection to consumers.
Director of Consumer Guidance, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Dexter Morgan said the time is right not only for reform in this area but to completely transform the protection for consumers in financial services. Further, he added, that we are not immune to economic events outside of the region.
Consumer International is also supported by the Governments of Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago, while the Tobago House of Assembly facilitated the two day workshop. A similar workshop was also carded for Trinidad later in the week.