Govt aims to force traders to buy back or replace faulty goodsTraders may soon have to buy back or replace faulty or substandard goods they sell to customers should the amendment to Consumer Protection Act 1998 come into effect.
Traders may soon have to buy back or replace faulty or substandard goods they sell to customers should the amendment to Consumer Protection Act 1998 come into effect.
The government, which has initiated the process of amending the Act, plans to introduce drastic changes to the law to protect the interest of consumers who are shortchanged by traders.
“The provision is expected to curb the practice of selling substandard or faulty products and pave the way for customers to exchange such goods or get the money back within a week of conducting the transaction,” said Gokul Prasad Dhital, director general of the Department of Supply Management. “The goods would be bought back or replaced based on invoice customers receive.”
The department took this initiative after it found that customers were being cheated by traders.
“The practice of buying back or replacing substandard and faulty products is common in foreign countries,” Dhital said at a programme organised in the Capital on Friday. “We will introduce this provision here as well once the amendments made to the Act are approved.”
The changes made to the Act are currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
To further protect consume`rs’ interest, the government is also planning to empower officials deployed to conduct market monitoring by allowing them to fine unscrupulous traders on the spot.
If traders fail to maintain the price list, or are found selling adulterated or expired products, market monitoring officials can slap a fine of Rs10,000 on the spot.
“There would be a three-fold increase in the penalty amount if traders are found making the same mistake for a third time,” Dhital said, adding, “A fine of Rs100,000 would be levied if malpractices pose direct threat to consumers’ health.” He also informed that businesses would be shut down if government’s instructions are defied time and again.
The revised Act also envisages empowering market monitoring officials to file cases related to malpractices at the court and make recommendations for release of those found guilty on bail.
It also includes provisions on expediting the process of framing guidelines on consumer related issues and issuing verdict on cases related to malpractices within a week.
The revisions made to the Act also propose establishment of a consumer court in each of the 75 districts.
“The lack of consumer court has resulted in poor implementation of various laws framed to protect consumer interest,” Puspa Ram Poudel, general-secretary of the National Consumers Forum Nepal, said, adding, “Provisions should be introduced to regulate the services sector as well.”
Sanjeev Kumar Karna, director general of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, stressed the need for proper coordination between various oversight agencies of the government. “This will make market monitoring more effective,” Karna said.