Consumer protection laws to be integratedThe government is preparing to introduce an umbrella consumer protection law as the plethora of laws and policies currently in force has been unable to address the problems being faced by consumers.
The government is preparing to introduce an umbrella consumer protection law as the plethora of laws and policies currently in force has been unable to address the problems being faced by consumers.
A taskforce has been formed under Law Commission Vice-Chairman Bhesh Raj Sharma to frame a new comprehensive act, the Ministry of Supplies said.
The objective of the single law is to discourage bad market practices such as adulteration of food products and service fraud. It aims to establish satisfactory production methods and standards, adequate distribution methods and fair business practices.
“The taskforce has been mandated to prepare a draft of the proposed act within two months,” said Under-Secretary Komal Bahadur Khatri who is a member of the taskforce.
Currently, there are a number of acts being enforced by various institutions that are intended to safeguard consumer rights.
Essential Goods Protection Act 1955, Transport Management Act 1993, Consumer Protection Act 1998, Construction Enterprise Act 1998, Food Act 1962, Black Marketeering and Some Other Social Offences and Punishment Act 1975, Drugs Act 1978, Nepal Standards (Certification Mark) Act 1980 and Nepal Petroleum Act 1983, among others, are some of the laws that the government has formulated for the protection of consumers.
“However, due to conflict of jurisdiction, the many laws have not benefitted consumers,” said Khatri.
For example, the Department of Supply Management has been usually taking the initiative to conduct market inspection of the food business which also falls under the purview of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control.
“Due to lack of coordination between these institutions and overlapping functions, wrongdoers have often been getting away,” said Khatri.
The proposed integrated act is expected to streamline laws related to the welfare of consumers. “In addition, the government expects to use the new law to take stern action against those involved in malpractices in the market,” Khatri said.
Earlier, the ministry had submitted a draft of a new Consumer Protection Act to the Law Ministry with the aim of cracking down on growing market anomalies. Khatri said the government had recently decided to enforce the umbrella act to integrate other related laws.
The Department of Supply Management has lately been receiving an increasing number of complaints about overpricing of essential commodities including transport, education and health services, it said. Similarly, sales of substandard food and bottled water have become rampant posing a risk to consumer health.