Monday, 28 February 2011

Code of Conduct for banks in the Caribbean

Antonino Serra writes on strengthening the consumer movement in three countries of the English-speaking Caribbean: Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

A group of experts have begun working on the development of a Code of Conduct for banks in English-speaking Caribbean countries. The idea was strongly supported during a seminar on consumer protection and financial services in Barbados in September 2010.

The work consists of reaching a consensus among consumer groups, the associations of banks and government agencies in a set of basic principles governing relations between consumers and institutions that provide them with financial services.

Starting point
The text of the Code will work as a letter of commitment that the banks undertake to abide by. Though the Code will not be mandatory, it is believed to be a very good first step in establishing the criteria and obligations that, in the future, will be reflected in legal texts.

Of the three countries, Jamaica has taken the lead. There already exists a first draft that is being developed by the banking association, CI, the consumer protection agencies and the consultant hired to carry out this task. The other two countries will begin their work in the coming days, and it is believed that the Jamaica draft will be used as a template for the other countries.

It is expected that the text of the Code will be completed in April.

Another tool: organisation websites
The project is also funding the design and implementation of websites for consumer organisations that have not had them, and improving those that already do. In each case, the advice of Internet design experts is being developed, with each one trying to reflect the style and vision of the organisation.

In the same vein, the project will involve the development of a website for the Caribbean Consumer Council (CCC), which brings together consumer associations and government agencies on consumer protection in the Caribbean countries.

The site will function as a portal of news and updates on what happens in each country, and is also intended as a reference point on the history of the consumer movement in the Caribbean, and a tool for those who are working in the region. The launch of these sites is expected in the first half of 2011.

Translation from Consumers International blog in Spanish.

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