Talk of rights

Yesterday, the ministry of economic affairs announced in Kuensel that today, 15th March, is World Consumer Rights Day.

According to their announcement, the annual event is “a time for promoting the basic rights of all consumers, for demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and for protesting the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.”

And according to the announcement, the ministry of economic affairs has drafted the Consumer Protection Act which will be submitted to the Parliament soon.

This is good news. Our government seems serious about promoting consumer welfare and protecting consumer rights.

But is it really serious? Consider this: the Tenancy Act, which came into force almost five years ago, was designed to protect the rights of tenants – the consumers of “rental units”. But the Act has hardly been enforced, leading Kuensel to question if the “Act was being violated in spirit and letter.”

Yes, our rights, as consumers, need to be understood, respected and protected. So yes, a Consumer Protection Act may be required.

But let’s first enforce the Tenancy Act. Let’s demand that our rights, as tenants, “are respected and protected.” And let’s protest the “market abuses and social injustices” which undermine these rights.

If we can’t protect the rights of tenants, the government’s talk of protecting consumer rights will remain just that … talk.