Nigerian considers new consumer protection policy against unfair business practices

The implementation of the policy would provide a level playing ground for businesses.

The Federal government is considering a new Competition and Consumer Protection policy to help tackle unfair business practices and provide a fair and competitive environment for industry, trade and investment in the country.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, said in Abuja on Thursday that implementation of the policy would address the various trade concerns and provide a level playing ground for businessmen in the interest of consumers, in particular, and the economy at large.

Mr. Aganga said the new policy would forestall the emergence of private monopolies, cartels, engender fair trade and ensure that Nigerian consumers got value for their money.

The minister spoke at the formal presentation of the Draft Competition and Consumer Protection Policy to Ministries, Extra-Ministerial Agencies, Organised Business Communities and State Governments in the Northern Part of Nigeria.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Abdulkadir Musa, Mr. Aganga said in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda and the on-going reforms, the policy was important in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The Minister said the Federal Government saw the urgent need for the policy, saying it was consistent with global trends for a robust legal and regulatory framework to be established to govern consumer protection and competition that underpin the reforms.

“This will in turn, forestall and/or minimise the emergence of private monopolies who would replace the public monopolies that the government was moving away from,” the minister said.

He said the government in realisation of the vital missing link had, in the past two years, worked hard to provide a new legal and regulatory framework for competition and consumer protection.

He listed the needs and benefits of a national policy for competition and consumer protection to include encouraging enterprise, innovation, efficiency and widening of choice.

The policy, he said, would in turn address cartel-like entities, anti-competition tendencies, protect the investing public and consumers; enable consumers to buy the goods and services they want at the best possible price; thus contributing to the country’s national competitiveness.

Mr. Aganga said there was currently a draft Federal Executive Competition and Consumer Protection Bill being considered for onward transmission to the National Assembly for passage into law.

“The draft bill delineates the institutions, laws, regulations, orders, rulings and other implementation and enforcement tools that will allow competition and consumer protection matters to be dealt with,” he noted.

The minister stressed the urgent need to spell out a policy framework to regulate consumer protection and competition issues that compelled the Federal Government to come up with the new Competition and Consumer Protection Policy.

The Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Dupe Atoki, said the new policy would act as a deterrent against anti-competitiveness practices and ensure that consumers got value for their money.

The absence of Competition and Consumer Protection Policy in Nigeria over the years, Mrs. Atoki said, had set the country back, with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment determined to reverse the trend.

“This will ensure that consumers get value for their money because the consumer is the king. The policy will also provide appropriate sanctions for anti-competitive practices by business organisations,” she said.

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