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Caricom implements market surveillance system
As member states seek to more aggressively implement the Caricom Rapid Alert System for the Exchange of Information on Dangerous (Non-Foods) Consumer Goods (Carrex) system, Hilda Kelshall, consumer health and safety officer, CSME Secretariat in Barbados, says that countries need to become their brother’s keeper in a concerted effort to protect consumers.
She said the region continues to rely heavily on international institutions for information, either directly or indirectly, on dangerous goods that have made their way on domestic or regional markets. “The problem with this dependency syndrome is that some of these international institutions, particularly the federal or state agencies in countries such as the United States, will only issue alerts when the dangerous goods or products in question are on the US market.
“However, if the dangerous goods are in foreign markets they are not obligated to act,” she said. “It is in light of this situation that the Carrex System must be seen as a critical mechanism for the region. Carrex is therefore not only timely, but an imperative for issuing alerts and notifications on dangerous goods that would not be under the international market surveillance radar but would be present in the community.”
Dexter Morgan, director, Consumer Guidance, Consumer Affairs Division of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications said: “Carrex is integral to the ministry’s drive to protect and enhance consumers’ health and safety interests in Trinidad and Tobago. Through it, we are able to pinpoint a product which represents a grave and immediate risk to consumers’ health and safety and to alert the relevant authorities to act so as to curtail circulation of that product in the region.”
Both were speaking at a Carrex in-country consultation in T&T on September 4 and 5 at the Carlton Savannah Hotel. T&T is one of 15 countries visited by the Caricom/CSME Team as part of its promotion and public sensitisation programme to operationalise and activate the Carrex system. Kelshall thanked the European Union (EU) for its continued support and contribution to the initiative and others under the Tenth European Development Fund (10th EDF).
Other speakers/presenters at the session included Michelle Myers, consumer protection and policy officer and Bradley Ochilien, network administrator, both of the CSME Secretariat.
Attending the sessions were representatives from Customs and Excise Division, Telecommunications Authority of T&T, Environmental Commission, Tobago House of Assembly, T&T Bureau of Standards, Food and Drug Division, Ministry of Health, T&T Manufacturers Association, Unicomer Trinidad Limited; and American Stores.
Carrex began in January 2012 and its purpose is to promote and protect the interest of consumers in Caricom by harmonising and strengthening the region’s regulatory framework on consumer protection through:
• A general alert and surveillance system to cope with emergency situations.
• Rapid exchange of information between member States and the Caricom Secretariat on a product which represents a grave and immediate risk to consumer’s health and safety
Product categories covered by the Carrex are:
• Toys, motor vehicles, electronic appliances, lighting equipment, lighters, lighting chains, gadgets, machinery, stationery
• Cosmetics, children’s equipment, childcare articles, clothing, protective equipment, textiles and fashion items
• Household appliances, kitchen/cooking accessories, machine tools, furniture, gas and heating appliances
• Hobby/sports equipment, recreational crafts, food imitating products, decorative articles, laser pointers, chemical products, hand tools, articles for gardens and camping
• Communication and media equipment, construction materials, fashion products, firearms, accessories for pets, pyrotechnics.
The Carrex National Contact Point (NCP) is Anisha Ramadhar, consumer advocate I, Consumer Affairs Division ([email protected]) and Ava Bullard, consumer advocate I, Consumer Affairs Division, as the Alternate ([email protected]). The NCP’s can also be contacted on the toll number 800-4277.
Consumers can access the Product Incident Reporting portal for Dangerous Goods at www.carrex.caricom.org