The Consumer Affair Authority (CAA) of Sri Lanka held a National Public Private Dialogue to on making the digital marketplace fairer on the 15th-16th March 2018 to commemorate Consumer Day. Given the expected boom of eCommerce, and in light of the recent complaints received by the CAA the objective was to hear from both public and private stakeholders the pain points in order to develop a framework by which the CAA can assure consumer protection. ITC consultant and law professor, Michael Geist was entrusted with the task of pulling together aspects discussed during the two-days that ended in a workshop styled afternoon session. His recommendations will inform the Act that is currently being revised and form the basis of the framework requires by the CAA.
The objectives and intentions of the convening that LIRNEasia was invited to participate in was apt and timely. The execution could have been better.
- During the pre-meeting held two days before the event the importance of the role of banks (commercial and central) and financial institutions were highlights, given that a lot of the issued revolved around online payments. However, apart from a representative of the Central Bank, none of the other financial institutions were at the table due to invitations being extended at such short notice
- The proceedings were delayed by an hour as everyone waited on the arrival of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (that’s at least 50 man hours lost), that cost the last session of the day time (the lack thereof) and insufficient participation
- Some of the speakers / moderators unfortunately came in with personal agendas that only unnecessarily prolonged the discussion and left very little time for menagingful contributions
highlighted the use of eCommerce even in rural settings, where broadband quality of service is problematic; thus calling for attention to be paid to access and network availability, the fundamentals on which eCommerce is made possible.
From left to right: Shazna Zuhyle (LIRNEasia), Chandrika Tillekeratne (CAA), Michael Geist (ITC), Roshan Chandraguptha (CERT), Prathibha Mahanamahewa (University of Colombo)
In sum, the event had potential. One can be hopeful that the CAA, with the assistance of the ITC will promote the use of eCommerce while addressing issues of consumer redressal mechanisms, and, via the relevant authorities, matters relating to networks and payment gateways, among others, while being cognizant of not over-regulating.