The Post Zambia, February 24, 2010

ZAMBIA Competition Commission (ZCC) is seeking stronger administrative powers such as imposition of a maximum 10 per cent fine on a company’s turnover for failing to comply with the proposed competition and fair trading Act and consumer protection policy.

Currently, the ZCC has powers to prosecute offenders through the High Court and the maximum punishment imposed is a five-year jail term or a K10 million fine.

During a sensitisation workshop on consumer awareness and competition policy in Kitwe on Monday, ZCC director for consumer welfare and public relations Brian Lingela said consumer protection was a big challenge because of its diversity in nature.

He said the government was reviewing the Act that was enacted in 1994 and it was also formulating a policy on consumer protection, to enhance it.

“The process to review and consolidate the Act and formulate a policy has reached advanced stages and currently the draft is with the Ministry of Justice to be fine-tuned and we hope it will be tabled before the next session of Parliament,” Lingela said. “Some of the main features of the proposed Act and policy will be disclosure of information whereby if products are not fully labeled or itemised with price tags, warranties or guarantees, then offenders will be punished and we are also seeking administrative powers to impose maximum punishment of 10 per cent fine on company’s turnover since under the current Act the maximum fine is a five-year jail term or K10 million but what impact will this fine have on a large company?”

And Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) Zambia programme officer Patrick Chengo said his organisation had approached the Ministry of Education to include consumer rights and welfare protection in the school curriculum.

“We think it will be important to inculcate these issues in the minds of young ones so that capacity is built at a tender age,” said Chengo.

Officially opening the workshop, Kitwe District Commissioner McDonald Mtine said economic liberalisation brought challenges through increased imports that included having sub standard goods to flood the Zambian market.

“We need to have proper control since we are looking at the lives of people who are at risk when using these sub standard and counterfeit goods,” said Mtine.

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