As part of the celebration of World Consumer Rights Day held under the theme: “Campaigning for Real Consumer Choice in Financial Services,” the National Consumer Institute and the Tunisian Professional Association of Banks and Financial Institutions (APTBEF) held, on Thursday, a meeting on the theme: “Tunisian Consumers and Competition in Banking Sector.
Speaking at the meeting, Bashir Zaafouri, Minister of Commerce, stressed the need to promote the fundamental rights of all consumers, to demand that these rights are respected and protected, and to speak out against the abuses of the market economy and social injustices which undermine them.
“We are all consumers and our way of life is conditioned by consumption, since it affects many actions of our daily lives.”
The consumer, who is recipient of the production, distribution and services, represent an economic asset. It should be acknowledged here that the State has taken steps to ensure a high level of health and safety to the consumer, especially for greater transparency, which requires producers and distributors to declare the origin, production methods and the dangers of products and also for a more active surveillance of the market.
The event focused on several basic consumer rights, namely the right to security, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard, specified the Minister.
The representative of the Tunisian Organization for Consumer Protection (ODC) urged banks to do their best to improve services for customers by sticking to good banking practice and relying on information technologies that ensure speed, transparency and diligence to their services.
To do this, he invited the heads of credit institutions to promote the quality of services to the level of international standards and maximize customer satisfaction through better responsiveness and better balance between supply and demand of the latter.
He also stressed, in this context, the achievements made for the benefit of Tunisian consumers, including the preservation of health and the environment, and promoting living conditions benefit of governmental attention.
Starting from the awareness of the challenges to be met in the coming years, he emphasized the adaptation of the Tunisian banking system to technological changes and the continued development of the banking network through the establishment of bank branches in inner regions and bringing them closer to consumers.
He also indicated that the ODC seeks to improve the level of banking and insurance, by ameliorating services provided to consumers and the national economy.
Still, he said, despite this significant development, efforts are still needed, particularly in terms of transparency of transactions, improved customer relationships and reducing delays in processing files.
With regard to the poll conducted from March 5 to 8, 2012 by the National Consumer Institute on “Banking Competition and Quality of Services Offered to Consumers,” about 39% of respondents said that they have changed their bank to find another, 32% believe that the operation of the change is easy, 36% said it is medium and 32% indicate it is difficult.
Concerning administrative procedures for account transaction, 21% believe the procedures are fast, 47% said they are medium and 32% considered they are complicated.
For bank services, 19% of respondents were satisfied and 23% unsatisfied. 72% said they had problems to get a credit card, loan, information or statement.
It should be noted that the survey was conducted on 120 samples (with bank accounts).
For his part the president of the APTBEF, urged all concerned to improve the profitability of banking in Tunisia at the expected level which necessarily requires the consecration of the culture of good management in the area of service delivery, making the efficiency and quality the foundations of banking.
He believed that customer satisfaction is a big challenge. Professionals also have to show more understanding and exert more efforts while focusing on customer awareness and guidance.