NCDs All About Choices: Minister Koya

Minister for Koya at the Consumer Day program

“LIFE is precious and it needs to be protected.” This was the message by Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Hon. Faiyaz Koya for the World Consumer Rights Day celebrations where the theme “Consumers’ Right to Healthy Food” has brought the prevalence of Non Communicable Disease in Fiji under the spotlight.

At the Consumer Council of Fiji-organised event, Minister Koya told the youth, mothers, educators and others that beyond the responsibility the Government and the business community have towards standards, it is the consumers who make the choice.   

“You as consumers have an even greater role - you make the choices. Because of this, it is important to make well-thought out choices.  The Government ensures protection for all Fijians through appropriate laws and measures,” he said.

He said much has been done by the authorities to ensure that Fijians eat fresh and healthy least of all the promotion of buying fresh Fiji grown fruits and vegetables but also making imported food affordable.

“This has been evident through various policies such as the reduction of fiscal duty on fruits and vegetables from 32 per cent to five per cent to enable all Fijians to have access to a variety of fruits and vegetables,” Mr Koya said.

He commended the other stakeholders such as the business community for coming together to fight NCDs.
Council chief executive officer, Premila Kumar highlighted the various cases of misleading labels and fraudulent claims on food items on supermarket shelves.

“Consumers can only know about a product through information provided on the label and we believe these labels must contain the correct information,” she said.

The council is also exploring the idea of having the nutritional value information on the front of the label rather than the back as well as having the information presented in such a way that it is understood by the consumer.

Minister Koya said Government has also put in place the Commerce Commission Decree 2010 to provide pricing determinations which eliminates restrictive trade practices and provides for the consumer protection through provisions on false and misleading representation, misleading advertising and deceptive conduct.

Ministry of Health’s National Adviser on NCD, Dr Isimeli Tukana said the Ministry was trying to bring in the star rating system from neighbours Australia and New Zealand as this has been more effective in attracting consumers on making the right choice.
World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated globally on March 15 but had to be deferred due to adverse weather.