"What is the role of consumer protection associations in promoting the culture of consumerism"

The Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy, in partnership with the federations and Associations of Consumer Protection, organised National Consumer days from 13 to 17 March 2017.

The theme of the 2017 edition was "What is the role of consumer protection associations in promoting the culture of consumerism", and aims to highlight the role of these institutions in informing consumers and protecting their interests

At the seminar marking the event's launch, held on 13 March in Rabat, Mr. Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy, highlighted the important role of consumer protection associations in promoting the national consumer movement. As players working closely with the public, the associations' action in terms of raising consumer awareness, defending their rights and resolving their disputes with suppliers of goods and services, is essential.

In this regard, the Minister stressed that consumer protection associations would significantly improve their efficiency by enhancing their professional competence and by incorporating rules of good governance in their management practice.

To encourage the national consumer movement, the Ministry launched the first support programme for consumer protection associations in 2016. This programme focuses on the development of expertise, strengthening the management capacity of the associations, and activities informing and raising the awareness of consumers. A package worth 6 million Dirhams has been reserved for this project which has benefited three federations meeting the eligibility criteria.

In this context, the Ministry in collaboration with different stakeholders is undertaking a range of actions to strengthen the consumer culture and protect the basic rights of the Moroccan consumer.

The legal framework for consumer protection has thus been strengthened and several projects of joint decrees have been developed with the concerned ministerial departments. They relate in particular to standard forms of preliminary offers of credit, detachable withdrawal forms and the value of the application fee for mortgages (joint decrees between this Ministry and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, The certification and appointment of investigators, which came into force in April 2016, allows the concerned departments to carry out their own field investigations including within jurisdiction of certain government departments.

Furthermore, an investigation on the overhaul of law No. 31-08 will be launched to align it with international standards in this area.

To make suppliers aware of their obligations under the legislation in force, the first monitoring operations were launched throughout Morocco in 2016. The Ministry's investigators visited 900 facilities, allowing 9,624 inspections to be carried out. 3,000 non-conformities were identified. These mainly concerned the display of prices, the conditions of sale, sales and sales with bonuses.

Similarly, since 2016, the Ministry has been tightening of control of retail websites to ensure their compliance with the provisions of Law No. 31-08 concerning distance selling. More than 100 websites were checked of which 96 have been sent warning letters to encourage them to comply with the legislative provisions on distance selling.

To improve awareness about the provisions of the consumer protection legislation and improve effective enforcement by the various stakeholders, workshops and information days were held with government departments, judges and the legal professions, associations for consumer protection, and also the private sector.

With information and listening to the consumer always at the heart of the strategy, the Ministry has rolled out a communication plan to inform citizens about their rights. The content of the portal www.khidmat-almostahlik.ma has been improved and an on-line complaints service has been made available to consumers. Similarly, a set of information materials and educational tools has been put on-line and distributed throughout Morocco.

Through these actions, we want to build the foundations of a solid and sustainable consumer culture at the service of the citizen, and in favour of a healthy and fair relationship between suppliers and consumers, stressed the Minister, adding that concerned government departments and organisations are ever more challenged to play a full role in advancing this work, each in its field of competence.

The National Consumer days will be held from Monday 13 March to Friday 17 March 2017. Workshops and information meetings on the role of consumer protection associations will be organised with the local actors throughout Morocco.