Public urged to form consumer lobby group

09 Oct 2013 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 09 OCT (NAMPA) - The director of the Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC)’s economic and sector research department has called on members of the public to set up a consumer lobby group which will enable them to speak in unison on issues affecting them.
Nampa spoke to Dr Michael Humavindu on Tuesday to get his view on the effect which the increase in prices of locally produced products has on the consumer. This is especially relevant currently as Namib Poultry Industries (NPI) recently announced that the price of Namibian-produced chicken will increase by 12 per cent mid-October this year.
The announcement has left many Namibians hot under the collar as they view the increase as unfair, especially in the light of Infant Industry Protection (IIP) being granted to the broiler industry, which in effect limits imports of cheap poultry products from outside the country.
Infant Industry Protection has been awarded to industries such as the dairy, poultry, pasta and cement industries, amongst others.
Many Namibian consumers feel that the current prices of local infant industry protected products are too high, while they expected local production to lead to cheaper products.
They are of the opinion that the sky-rocketing prices of especially chicken can be attributed to a lack of competition due to limited imports.
Namibia currently has no consumer protection provisions, but the NaCC is in the process of revising the Competition Act to include consumer protection legislation.
Humavindu said although Government is trying its best to have legislation in place to protect consumer rights, members of the public also have to make their voices heard through a consumer lobby group.
Consumer lobby groups work towards influencing decisions on behalf of consumers and lobbying for legislation in favour of consumer rights, he explained.
Such groups are also formed to enforce safer regulations on the types of products which manufacturers create and sell.
Coming back to the current situation Namibians find themselves in with regards to especially poultry prices, Humavindu said it also will not help the consumer to just switch from the product of their choice to other products such as red meat or fish due to high prices.
Consumers have the right to products of their choice, affordable pricing, fair promotion or advertising, contractual arrangements, and shelving of the right goods at the right place.
“You must speak up for a solution to be reached,” he stated.
NPI’s announcement that poultry prices would rise due to broiler production not being economically viable with the current pricing, increased consumers’ frustration even more as Cabinet has also given the Ministry of Trade and Industry the go-ahead to implement restrictions on dairy imports.
Many have made their voice heard in public platforms such as the SMS (short message service) pages of local newspapers. Besides complaints about pricing, they also worry that the local dairy industry will not be able to meet all demands, such as those for low fat dairy products.
“Form a consumer lobby group that will help to seek changes in legislation if needed, and changes in business practices,” Humavindu stressed.