Abu Dhabi – His Excellency (H.E.) Engineer Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, headed the 4th Meeting of the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection (HCCP) for 2016, which was recently held at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai. The session was attended by H.E. Engineer Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Economy; H.E. Humaid bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Corporate Sector and Consumer Protection and Dr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department, Ministry of Economy. Also present were members of the committee that were comprised of officials from the federal government and local governments of the emirates.
Minutes of the 4th meeting showed the latest developments covering the implementation of recommendations made during previous meetings, including recommendations on research and discussion by the HCCP and communication with the Ministry of Finance to coordinate the discussion of the impact of the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) on businesses.
The minutes also featured developments related to the issuance of electronic and manual contracts, and its follow-up procedures. This also includes the role of concerned authorities and their commitment to the decision of the HCCP on the prevention of additional charges when using credit cards on all services and transactions and the review of guidelines covering dispute settlement panels. The meeting also featured a presentation on the self-inspector project of the Department of Economic Development – Dubai.
H.E. Al Mansoori stressed the importance of continuing to work continuously and in constant coordination with all concerned authorities to develop tools and mechanisms to achieve more market discipline and strengthen the ways to protect consumers’ rights in accordance with the best international practices.
H.E. added that the HCCP has made many concrete steps in its move to adjust the practices of various vital business activities in the UAE—further noting that the HCCP is set to launch newer initiatives in the coming year. One initiative is the renaming of the Customer Service Centres to Customer Happiness Centres, which follows the directive of the country’s wise leadership towards making customers happy. The move is expected to play a key role in the private sectors role in achieving the government’s objectives of promoting an environment of happiness and positivity.
In line with the recommendation to study the impact of the implementation of VAT on trade and service facilities and the ways of training and rehabilitation of SME’s owners to comply with the VAT laws, H.E. the Minister said that they are in close communication with the Ministry of Finance and have agreed on discussing the issue with them upon completion and eventual application of the law. H.E. stressed on the need to work on an extensive study covering the impact of applying the tax on the trade sector.
With regards to the issuance of the unified electronics and electrical appliances trade contracts guide, H.E emphasized the need to work on drafting an agreed summary and brief about the guide, specifically with what is related to the notes related to the warranty for all the electronic goods and items, in coordination with the electronics committee that has been formed by the Higher Committee and is tasked to present their findings and recommendations at its next meeting.
For his part, Mohammed Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), gave a presentation about the department’s Smart Inspector project, which includes the training of several private sector employees on consumer protection mechanisms, standards and guidelines and how to receive complaints and consumer feedback. Lootah explained that the aim of the project is to raise awareness among traders on consumer rights through the training of inspectors—who will be rewarded via a points system that gives privileges to the dealers who are dutifully complying with consumer standards and rules. He pointed out that during 2015, 400 self-inspectors from the private sector had been trained and are targeting to increase this number during the next phase.
In addition, a report on the dangers of energy drinks which was sent by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority had been presented. The Committee has recommended the need to raise awareness about the dangers of energy drinks and the importance of nutritional vigilance—moving to ensure the commitment to the standard specifications issued by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology.
The Higher Committee for Consumer Protection concluded its meeting with a presentation covering a number of reports on inflation and comparing prices and a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) about the price trends across prominent commodities as well as reviewing a report on consumer complaints.