‘Proposed consumer act follows UN guidelines’The bill to enact Consumer Protection Act 2017, that is currently being deliberated by the Ministry of Supplies, is comparable with laws in other countries, experts and lawmakers said.
The bill to enact Consumer Protection Act 2017, that is currently being deliberated by the Ministry of Supplies, is comparable with laws in other countries, experts and lawmakers said.
Speaking at a meeting of the sub-committee of the parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Protection on Friday, they claimed that most of the provisions in the proposed act match those in the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP).
The UNGCP contains 69 clauses divided under four subheadings. Among them, 17 are related to the promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interests, standards for safety and quality of consumer goods and services and promotion of sustainable consumption.
Coordinator of the sub-committee Subhash Chandra Thakuri said they had focused on enforcing the rules related to the 17 points in the UNGCP. “Although all the clauses cannot be made like those in the guidelines, we have tried to incorporate these provisions in the proposed act,” he said.
Establishing consumer courts under a separate jurisdiction, allowing consumers to return faulty goods within the prescribed time limit, creating a consumer protection fund, enforcing a system of penalising offenders and making sellers or importers accountable to consumers are among the provisions in the UNGCP which have been inserted in the proposed act.
Thakuri said the sub-committee had also been trying to make the penalty provision more precise. “The provisions for fine and imprisonment in the existing laws are too lenient, and they will not deter potential offenders,” he said.
Jyoti Baniya, president of the Consumers’ Welfare Protection Forum, said the proposed act had failed to create separate standards for separate goods. He also expressed the need to include the concept of sustainable consumption in the new act.
“A separate working guideline on sustainable consumption is necessary to ensure the rights of consumers in remote areas,” he said.
The bill to enact the Consumer Protection Act is expected to give more teeth to market monitoring authorities. According to Supplies Secretary Prem Kumar Rai, they are now holding consultations with the Law and Finance ministries. “After completing the consultations, we will send the final draft to the Cabinet,” he said.