FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — The Ministry of Labour (MOL) officially celebrated World Consumer Rights Day (March 15) with a special ceremony and exhibition in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Friday past.
The ceremony was held at the Harold DeGregory Complex and brought to a climax World Consumer Rights Week which was recognized with various activities in New Providence and the major Family Islands. The theme for the week was “Trusted Smart Products”.
The MOL including the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality and Consumer Affairs Unit (Price Control) in conjunction with various stakeholders hosted the event.
Ricardo Deveaux, First Assistant Secretary, CPC, led a small delegation to Grand Bahama to participate in the activities. Among the group was Machelle Carroll, Communications and Operations Manager; Patrick Ingraham and Carmen Kemp, Commissioners. Students representing seven schools in Grand Bahama, government officials, employees of the MOL and representatives of the various stakeholders were also present.
Senator Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, who spoke on behalf of the Hon. Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour, highlighted the Government’s progress toward digital transformation.
“If all of our persons are using smartphones, the private sector is using smartphones with digital services, the banks are moving forward with online services, insurance companies, other companies are moving forward with online services but the government is still far beyond, then that is a major problem for the country,” said Senator Thompson.
He expounded on the Government’s intent to change the way it does business even at the Cabinet level with a decision and a commitment to move towards a paperless Cabinet system.
He announced that in two to three weeks, the Government will execute a $30 million loan with Inter-American Development Bank, which will transform E-government services.
“The Cabinet is the highest decision-making body that we have in the country. If we can make decisions more effectively and efficiently then that means that those decisions can be executed more effectively and efficiently. It has to start from the top down.
“The Government has made a commitment that we will be paperless when it comes to the Cabinet and we will institute a program called E-Cabinet where decisions will be made online securely with all of the proper cybersecurity. It can be done online where Ministers are able to view online, make decisions and communicate with each other online and paperless,” he stated.
Senator Thompson also noted the Government’s plan to adopt Estonia’s model of E-Government services.
“If a government agency has a piece of information about you no other government agency should be able to ask for that same piece of information. That one simple concept, if we would begin to move towards that one principle, how powerful that change for this Government would be.
“One Government office will ask you to go to another Government office to get the Government’s information to give to another Government office – imagine if they spoke to each other. We should be moving towards a concept of the Government working for you instead of you working for the Government. What we are doing now is we are working for the Government.
“Digitally what should be happening is the same Government office should be digitally requesting that information from another Government office and digitally providing that information to them,” said the Senator.
Reno Smith, Chief Price Inspector, said MOL ended a successful 2019 Consumer Rights Week. Activities included a Junkanoo Rushout by the Platinum Knights Junkanoo Group and an exhibition which featured the Northern Bahamas Utility Company showcasing various smart products including a smart Nissan SmartCar and solar panels.
“We were happy to be able to assist in educating the consumers here in the northern Bahamas. In Bimini and Abaco we visited the schools to educate them more on consumer rights and trusted smart products for 2019,” said Smith.
This article was written by Kathryn Campbell – Bahamas Information Services