H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, chaired the third meeting of the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection (HCCP) for 2017. Participants discussed various strategies for developing and promoting consumer protection in the UAE's markets.
The session was held in Dubai in the presence of H.E. Eng. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, the Ministry’s Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; H.E. Humaid Bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection Sector; and Dr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department. Other federal and local officials of the various emirates forming part of the Committee attended as well.
The HCCP followed up on developments in the implementation of the recommendations forwarded during its previous meetings. Among the important topics discussed were the reports of the economic departments on the use of Arabic in restaurants and private clinics; the application of controls for the Arabization of invoices and reception functions; the prevention of additional charges on credit card payments; and the adoption of the final version of the standardized contracts for electronic items and electrical appliances.
The agenda also touched on the development of a legislative and regulatory system for the country’s e-commerce activities. Topics related to consumer protection, keeping pace with rapid developments in this area, and the importance of adopting best global practices were discussed.
H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori said: “The Higher Committee for Consumer Protection is prioritizing the development of tools for enhancing consumer protection and ensuring the best commercial practices in the markets. Enhancing consumer confidence has a direct impact on the stability and development of business in the country.”
H.E. Al Mansoori added that the growing number of Internet users, the expansion of e-markets and the rising popularity of e-shopping requires the adoption of policies and controls that ensure better regulation of transactions, the safety of the goods, and compliance with the specifications in force within the UAE while ensuring the protection of consumer rights.
During the meeting, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) delivered a presentation on its role in supporting e-commerce and various sectors in the country in harnessing the power of information and communications technology (ICT). It showcased a number of initiatives being implemented in this regard. The Authority also forwarded two proposals for enhancing e-consumer protection tools: an electronic platform for reporting and responding to e-consumer protection complaints, and the provision of third party warranty services between the consumer and the e-seller.
The Minister commended the TRA’s efforts and recommended that its proposals be studied in coordination with the various bodies concerned with electronic commerce. He also directed the evaluation and development of current e-commerce legislation in response to the broad market changes taking place.
The Ministry of Economy’s Department of Consumer Protection also reviewed a field study on the applicability of the Arabic language in the commercial and service sectors covering 473 firms and institutions from the different emirates. The results showed that the use of the Arabic language in reception desks, call centers and customer services was at 87 per cent. The Arabization of invoices was 84.3 per cent in these areas and 76.1 per cent in the sample restaurants.
H.E. Al Mansoori further emphasized the need for all the competent authorities to inform the commercial and service sectors of the importance of using the Arabic language in their billing system, reception areas, call centers, and restaurant services. He directed restaurants catering to three- to five-star hotels and commercial centers to provide Arabic speakers with the goal of ensuring 100 per cent placement of at least one Arabic speaker by the beginning of 2018.
The meeting also reviewed the final version of the unified contracts for electrical and electronic products covering sales, warranty and maintenance. The Committee endorsed the approval of the contract forms in preparation for roll-out. The Minister also instructed that actions be taken to make the application of the contracts compulsory by the beginning of next year, explaining that this will ensure the protection of buyers of electronic and electrical products while serving the interests of the sector.
In addition, the Committee discussed updates on the extent of compliance with the mandate of not imposing additional charges on goods and services paid for via credit cards in outlets. The Minister underscored the need for continuous follow-ups on this issue.
The Committee also reviewed the latest developments on discussions between representatives of the Consumer Cooperative Union and poultry farm officials regarding the demands of farm owners with respect to shelf rental rates and physical placement in cooperatives and outlets in order to enhance the competitiveness of domestic poultry products.
For its part, the Dubai Economy assessed its experiences in dealing with consumer complaints.
The meeting concluded with reports on consumer complaints, their distribution and categories; domestic inflation rates; and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on global food prices.