Consumer protection in the Caribbean

CI has finished its three-year project in the Caribbean with a series of successes including the development of a banking code of conduct as well as an increase in powers and resources for the Consumers Affairs Commission in Jamaica.

The general objective of the project was to strengthen consumer protection policies in the Caribbean by reinforcing the capacity of non-government consumer organisations and government agencies, and by increasing consumer awareness about their rights, in particular within the banking and credit sector.

One of the aims of the project was to create a bridge between consumer organisations and government agencies, looking at the needs of both and delivering useful tools to help satisfy those needs.

Over the course of the three years, the project has been successful in joining the two sides in a collaborative working relationship on such projects as consumer education campaigns and in the celebration of World Consumers Rights Day.

Another aim of the project was to raise consumer awareness. The project has also been successful in doing this through seminars on issues such as financial services and economic integration, workshops on strategic planning, data analysis, consumer protection, complaints handling and education.

Since the project started, there has been an increase in related news pieces in the media and more concern from government authorities, for example, in the case of Jamaica where there has been an increase in the powers and resources of the Consumers Affairs Commission.

Codes of conduct

The project set out to help key stakeholders to develop a progressive draft banking code for the Caribbean, including international best practices that would be acceptable to the banking sector and consumers alike.

In the case of Jamaica, this effort has been fruitful as the issue became an important item on the agendas of the Consumers Affairs Commission and the Bank of Jamaica. The Code of Conduct, developed by experts from the project, was launched at a high-profile media event.

Springboard for the future

Overall, the project has strengthened CI's ties with the Caribbean Consumer Council, and through them, has had a positive impact on many people from other Caribbean countries who have attended the meetings.

Several changes have been made for Caribbean consumers. For example, web pages of government agencies and consumer associations have been designed or redesigned to be more relevant to the public.

Working together, with CI, these groups have made great progress toward achieving better protection in financial services.

The project involved three countries: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados and was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Read more on this project from CI's consumer financial services expert Antonino Cambaceres on our blog.

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