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Created on 28 March 2011 Written by George


St. George, March 25th 2011 -- Grenada now has an organization committed to promoting and protecting the interests of consumers. The official launching ceremony was held at the Grenada National Stadium in St. George’s on Thursday 24th March 2011.

The Grenadian Organization for Consumer Affairs (GOCA) is a non-governmental organization responsible for consumer rights and advocacy, and is committed to promoting and protecting consumers’ interests,” according to interim Vice President, Mr. Milton Coy.

In what can be described as an impressive ceremony, the president of the Caribbean Consumer Council (CCC), Mrs. Dolsie Allen hailed the formation of the organization as, “a positive and welcomed contribution for the development of consumerism in the Caribbean.”  Mrs. Allen, who heads the Jamaica Consumer Council, noted that GOCA is, “timely for Grenada and the region; given the many challenges being experienced by consumers.”

Mrs. Allen gave the charge to the executive to be consistent and focused, noting that at times it may be rough and challenging; but, as volunteers, they should see their contribution as priceless, rather than worthless.

CARICOM’s representative at the ceremony, Mrs. Anieta Lewis, who is responsible for consumer affairs and labour within the context of the CARICOM’s Single Market and Economy (CSME) also commended the initiative by the Grenada Human Rights Organization Inc (GHRO Inc). She congratulated them on providing consumers in Grenada with a voice, and called on the executive to build on this opportunity to develop a vibrant and effective consumer organization.

Mrs. Lewis said that CARICOM is committed to strengthening the organizational capacity of consumer non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the region, and looks forward to GOCA’s growth and development to provide effective services to the people of Grenada.

Mrs. Lewis also said that the GOCA should ensure that consumers not only be informed about their rights, but of their responsibilities as well. She promised that CARICOM will continue to support the organization to achieve its objectives which, among other things include, the promotion of “best practices” in consumerism and to encourage “compliance” by the business community.

The Grenada government has also pledged support for the organization. Mr. Curlan Gilchrist, a consultant attached to the Ministry of Finance, noted that the formation of this NGO would strengthen consumer protection on the island. Mr. Gilchrist said that government is currently in the process of developing a policy for consumer protection. He sees a pivotal role for the organization in educating the public about the rights and responsibilities of the consumer.

Mr. Gilchrist, who also serves as an advisor to GOCA, noted that they could play a leading role for public consultation on the CARICOM Drafted Model Bill on consumer protection, scheduled to begin later in the year.

An interim executive of six members was presented. The executive included – Interim president, Mrs. Lauret Clarkson, Interim Vice President, Milton Coy, General Secretary, Mrs. Kenia Charles, Consultants Mr. Jude Bernard and Mrs. Jenny Theodore, and Mr. Curlan Gilchrist, as advisor to the organization.

Mr. Coy, who is also the president of the GHRO Inc and serves as GOCA’s interim vice president, said the organization will be guided by the principles of the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to a healthy environment.

As a demonstration for support to GOCA, Mrs. Allen -- in her capacity as president of CCC, announced that the organization will be given one year’s free membership in CCC.

The launching ceremony of  GOCA was sponsored by CARICOM. Membership in the GOCA is open to all Grenadians.