Govt to renew focus on consumer protection lawsThe Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has once again harped on about protecting consumers from bad market practices without introducing any new programme on market monitoring.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has once again harped on about protecting consumers from bad market practices without introducing any new programme on market monitoring.
The current government like the ones before them, repeated its commitment to amend existing laws related to consumer right. Such laws have been created on paper but government bodies are reluctant on enforcing them.
Consumers are constantly being put through the wringer with excessive price hikes and poor quality of service when they purchase food, enroll their children in schools or receive health service at hospitals.
Although the government has taken a more proactive stance on protecting consumer rights by ending cartels and syndicate in a number of sectors, especially transport, malpractices continue to occur in every sector.
The government authorities so far have failed to implement the provisions maintained in the laws. 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, the concerned government bodies squabble with one another, claiming a conflict of jurisdiction instead of working together in part due to their reluctance in taking action against those found guilty during market inspection,
The issue, particularly in market monitoring, has gotten so bad that there has been very little cooperation among government bodies in the last six years. The Joint Market Monitoring Directive 2012 states that market monitoring should be conducted in coordination with government authorities.
The ministry is looking to amend the directive to make market monitoring more effective. Supplies Minister Matrika Yadav said that the ministry was looking to amend the directive to ensure market monitoring becomes effective.
He also added that the ministry will be appointing a public prosecutor as permanent staff at the Department of Supplies Management.
According to Yadav, many irregularities are discovered in the documentation process filed by the concerned regulators which contributes to the wrongdoers avoiding punishment.
He attributed this reason for the recent cases of malpractice by a number of schools, hospitals and other companies where no action was taken against them.
On the issue of halting market monitoring based on the ministry’s intervention, Yadav denied such allegations. He, however, revealed that market monitoring will resume from Monday.
“We have plans to conduct market inspection more systematically,” Yadav said. He however failed to produce the specific work plans of the government to protect consumer rights.