Gambia’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Musa Balla Gaye has said the mandate of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PU R A), as enshrined in its 2001 Act, places heavy demand on the authority.
The act requires the institution to be an impartial arbiter, ensuring that bot h the interests of service providers and customers are equally protected, PANA r e ports.
Gaye made the statement here Friday at the launching of PURA?s first consumer pa rliament, saying the maiden session of the consumer parliament was another avenu e for consumers to come face to face with their service providers and colle c tively address problems and seek solutions in an open and frank manner..
According to him, since inception, PURA has steadily grown with notable achievem ents and it will gradually take up additional responsibilities, such as broadcas t ing and transport, when feasible, in the gradual march towards nation-building.
He said it was envisaged the consumer parliament will serve as a platform for di alogue and action by all stakeholders in order to facilitate the empowerment of c onsumers.
The minister stressed further that it was also worth noting that over the past t hree years without fail PURA has been innovating ways and means to protect consu m ers in the country.
Mr. Abdoulie Touray, Chairman, Board of Commissioners of PURA said the agency ha s emerged as a vital national institution, not only to ensure that consumers, go t what they paid for but to protect them from high tariff, malpractices and preda t ory advertising.
Touray pointed out that as a developing country, it was important that where the government provides an enabling environment through the establishment and empow e rment of institutions such as PURA, their mandates are delivered.
He said this year, PURA ordered for the reduction of interconnection call charge s between the fist national GSM provider GAMTEL and other GSM mobile operators.
According to him, PURA developed tariff approval guidelines for the telecommunic ation market, ensuring that no tariff increase could occur without the guideline s being complied with, as a check and balance on potential increase.
Alagi B. Gaye, Director General, PURA, described consumer parliament as an innov ative public awareness and interaction programme, where consumers of communicati o n services; telephone, fixed and wireless, internet services, electricity, water
and sewage services will meet face-to-face with the service providers and the re g ulator.