At a time when inflation occupies the minds of stakeholders, the local consumer watchdog has appealed to the government to give it more support in order to deliver on its mandate. The Consumer Rights Association of Rwanda is seeks to cooperate with the government as the prices of basic goods soars.
“We don’t have enough resources, in our capacity, we are only going to highlight matters relevant to the current fuel prices,” said Job Opar, Chief Consultant at Consumer Association of Rwanda.
Some of the areas that need support according to the body are in publications and publicity to create awareness on consumer rights.
At present, he said the group was most concerned about the rampant hike in food products, adding that in some cases, retailers have raised prices seemingly without considering consumers’ rights.
Opar said that the association offered to train 25 persons to serve as voices to educate the public about global oil crises and its likely effects to ease speculation within the oil importation sector.
“Some retailers hike the prices without any due consideration because consumers don’t know the justification and how price increase is calculated,” he said, adding that the association could assist in enforcing relevant consumer laws meant to protect citizens.
Opar added that the association was working closely with government agencies on how best to regulate prices to protect consumers.
He cited prices of some food products such as cooking oil, flour, rice and sugar as being exceptionally basic, adding that such should not be subjected to increments.
The association also plans to compile price guide information for particular commodities, a move that would help consumers to make the right choices in purchasing products.
Minister of Trade and Industry Monique Nsanzabaganwa aditted that there was no law to protect consumers’ interests against overpricing. She, however, said that consumers’ rights are quoted in the law on substandard goods and services.
“We (government) regulate indirectly by ensuring free flow of supply and demand, then let market forces to play; only fuel and utilities are controlled,” she added.
Minister Nsanzabaganwa warned that oil products would always directly or indirectly affect other commodity prices but added that such a stretch should not exceed 0.4 percent to one percent increment arising out of an equal increase on fuel prices.
Consumer Right Association of Rwanda was established three years ago and presently has more than 500 registered members.