Competition and Consumer Protection
One of the important functions of Government is to create an enabling environment in which enterprises operate. Clear policies and legislation have to be put in place to foster a competitive environment for business enterprises, thereby increasing efficiency in the economy to the ultimate benefit of both consumers and producers.
As economies move progressively towards increased liberalization, certain undesirable business practices can emerge which act as a hindrance to development and economic growth. The absence of a competition and consumer protection policy in Rwanda has created opportunities for some sectors of the business community to engage in unfair business practices, such as price fixing, speculative hoarding and collusive tendering.
Competition policy aims to promote fair competition; its purpose is not to condemn or penalize those industries in Rwanda that have large shares of the market. Large and strong companies can enjoy economies of scale that enable them to minimize costs and withstand both domestic and foreign competition.
On the other hand, such firms can occasionally practice anti-competitive behavior. It is important to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from firms, whether large or small, which engage in collusion that is designed to prevent competition.
Competition policy is complementary to trade liberalization. The consumer welfare and developmental benefits resulting from trade and investment liberalization, in the absence of the appropriate competition rules and supporting institutional infrastructure, have been questioned in the light of the experiences of many developing countries.
The potential benefits of a shift towards a more market-oriented economy will not be realized unless business firms are prevented from imposing restrictions on competition.
In the light of Rwanda’s commitment to a liberalized economy, there is a need for a fair and equitable environment where producer and consumer can maximize their profit and satisfaction respectively. There is therefore a need for a Rwanda Competition and Consumer Protection policy if market oriented policies are to be given the best possible chance of success.
In the light of this, it is therefore imperative for Rwanda to develop this Policy ensuring the supporting legislation, infrastructure and regulations.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Unit has the following tasks:
• To provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices at the best possible quality.
• To ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the economy and to promote a greater spread of ownership.
• To provide the incentives to producers within the country for improvement of production and quality products through technical and organizational innovation.
• To enhance the competitiveness of Rwanda enterprises in world markets by exposing them to competition within the country.
• To create a conducive environment to foreign direct investment in the country.
• To promote economic efficiency and enhance consumer choice, encouraging the development of Rwanda’s economy.
Who is a consumer and how is he/she protected
A consumer is anyone buying for his/her own or for family purposes. He/she can buy either goods or services or both.
Broadly speaking, each person is a consumer and therefore has the rights of being protected like the right to be informed on available products, assurance of qualified products and products respecting metrology systems.
Note that consumer protection goes with competition in trade of commodities.
When consumer protection is well maintained, one of the results is the slump in prices and perpetuation of quality prop ducts.
Here are six basic consumer rights:
• A consumers needs a well customer care
• A consumer needs to clearly know the prices
• A consumer has rights to qualified products with respect to both national and international standards
• A consumer has rights to be offered products of true weights with respect to metrology mechanisms
• A consumer has the right to choose – and to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices
• A consumer has the right to safety like being protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life.
Three main provisions are in the national trade law regulating internal trade:
• A consumer has right to a guarantee
• A consumers has right to be shown the prices for all products and services
• A consumer has a right to the valid invoice
Consumer! Fight for your rights and reject prejudice!!
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) in its responsibilities of protecting consumers rights works with other public and private stakeholders to ensure consumer protection and in line with the internal trade law; there is a strike to remove all barriers faced by consumers.
Nowadays consumers are being sensitized countrywide to set up their cooperatives and so far we have already 2; one being in Kigali city and another in Rubavu District.
For further inquiries, please call us on a call free line: 3739.
PROBLEMS WHICH COME CONSTANTLY
A consumer had no right to a guarantee
• A consumers had no right to be shown the prices for all products and services
• A consumer had no right to the valid invoice
Strategy used by MINICOM
Inspection is being done consumers and traders have been trained on their rights.