Monday, February 18, 2008

Domestic consumers lobby digs up new drive

By Mgeta Mganga

2008-02-18 08:49:25
The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) has plans to introduce annual awards to honour manufacturers, suppliers, importers, operators and service providers who would have demonstrated agility to uphold consumers rights in Tanzania.

The awards would become full swing by the end of this year and TCAS Executive Director; Bernard Kihiyo confirmed to this paper last week that this programme would also create greater possibilities for using corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and business best practice frameworks to enhance private sector interest in consumers protection.

There are indications that the Consumers International (CI) would support the initiative by providing technical and consultation inputs into making the event successful.

On his part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe said the annual competition would tune-up the attention of businesses to the fact that consumers were watching companies activities, actions and behaviour as to how best they are serving consumers interests and needs.

According to Mwakyembe, the competition would also encourage businesses to invest in broader social values whose benefits go beyond profit. He explained that for businesses to flourish there must be symbiotic relationships between supply and demand sides.

In recent times, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in company`s that are seen to be acting in a socially responsible manner. Transparency and a commitment to responsible business could give a company an advantage in securing public contracts.

The award winners would be those that would have objectively demonstrated their resolve to boosting sustainable consumption, including meeting the needs of present and future generations for goods and services in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) said the awards would also provide feedback to businesses about their conduct from the point of view of Tanzanian consumers. ``The goal is to work toward addressing consumers right for quality products as well as getting best deal for the value of their money``, he said.

The Annual Award will involve strong consumers participation in a transparent way. Consumers views would be collected through postal mails, e-mails, text messages, and interactive radio and television bulletins.

The lobby group claims that 80 percent of consumers in Tanzanian do suffer from lack of awareness about what rights they were naturally entitled to enjoy from suppliers of goods and services. TCAS provides an advocacy platform that would make the voices of consumers heard and hence make markets work better for both urban and rural consumers in Tanzania, doing so since 2005.

· SOURCE: Guardian

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