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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the CASE50 Conference on Building Trust and Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Digital Age

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the CASE50 Conference on Building Trust and Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Digital Age

Mr. Melvin Yong, President of CASE,

Former Presidents,

CASE Central Committee members,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1. Good evening. I am pleased to join you today at the CASE50 Conference on strengthening consumer protection in the digital age and to mark CASE’s 50th Anniversary.

 

50 YEARS OF CONSUMER ADVOCACY

 

2. Let me begin by thanking CASE for the key role that you have played in protecting consumers’ interests for 5 decades. Over the years, CASE has worked hard to educate and empower consumers, and help them resolve disputes. CASE has also worked with many industry associations to promote fair trading and ethical business practices. You have been a strong partner to the Government in keeping our lawsup to date and reflecting consumers’ interests when policies are being formulated.

 

3. I am especially heartened to see how CASE has stepped up to assist consumers amidst the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. You reacted quickly by setting up a COVID-19 resource page to help consumers understand the protections available under the Temporary Measures that the Government introduced. CASE also worked with the key sectors that were most impacted. For example, you engaged airlines and travel associations on measures to support consumers, such as to offer flexibility in the use of travel vouchers and to help consumers recover prepayments.

 

STRENGTHENING CONSUMER PROTECTION IN E-COMMERCE AS A KEY PRIORITY

 

4. COVID-19 has accelerated shifts in consumer behaviour – in particular, the shift toward e-commerce. E-commerce sales in Singapore are projected to hit more than $10 billion dollars this year and grow more than 25% by 2026. With the rapid growth of online shopping, CASE has seen a corresponding increase in the number of complaints relating to online transactions. Even as you celebrate your 50th anniversary, CASE is looking forward, and has rightly identified strengthening safeguards in e-commerce as one of your strategic focus areas.

 

5. I am pleased that CASE has taken the initiative to engage major e-commerce marketplaces to develop a standard dispute management framework for the industry. It covers best practices in verifying merchants’ identities, clear communication with consumers, timely dispute resolution, as well as clear exchange and refund polices. The framework will help consumers resolve disputes quickly and efficiently. By adopting the framework, e-commerce marketplaces will be able to engender greater trust and confidence in their platforms, which is in turn good for business.

 

6. I congratulate CASE on launching this framework and Lazada Singapore on becoming the first e-marketplace in Singapore to adopt it. I hope that many more industry players will come on board in the months ahead. CASE also intends to launch a new CaseTrust accreditation scheme for e-commerce businesses soon. I encourage businesses to consider applying for the accreditation mark, to help your business stand out in the crowded e-commerce space.

 

PARTNERSHIP FOR STRONGER CONSUMER PROTECTION

 

7. CASE’s efforts over the years would not have been possible without your strong team of volunteers and passionate consumer champions from industry, the labour movement, and everyday citizens. Many of you are present here this evening and we will recognise some of you for your contributions later. As you mark this 50th anniversary milestone, I would like to encourage CASE to build on this partnership between Government, industry and consumers and keep up the drive to strengthen the consumer movement in the years to come.

 

8. On that note, let me thank President Melvin, and the CASE Central Committee for your leadership, and all the volunteers and partners past and present. My congratulations once again on your 50th anniversary.

 

9. Thank you.

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