Govt to revise market monitoring duties

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 16, 2018-The government is working to revise the laws related to market monitoring with the aim of handing over the task to local units. Pointing out that a centralised system of market monitoring was inappropriate in the new scenario of federalism, the government has planned to revise the Joint Market Monitoring Directive as the first step.

According to the Supplies Ministry, it has started drafting a new directive on joint market monitoring. “The ministry has started revising the present laws due to the weak participation of the concerned authorities in market inspection activities,” Supplies Secretary Anil Kumar Thakur said Thursday at a programme organised to mark World Consumers Rights Day.

Nepal has chosen the slogan ‘Activism of local level in consumers’ awareness campaign’ for this year’s celebration.

In 2012, the government enforced the Joint Market Monitoring Directive in a bid to make market monitoring more effective by building coordination among the regulating agencies, creating uniformity in monitoring, protecting consumer rights and increasing awareness among the general public. No coherent effort has been made to secure consumer rights in the more than five years since the directive was implemented.

“That’s why the ministry saw the need for a new directive to accommodate the role of local governments,” said Thakur. He added that the ministry had also been devising a new directive to streamline the activities of consumer rights activists in the new structure of federalism.

Nepal has agreed to implement six of the eight clauses in the Guidelines for Consumer Protection issued by United Nations in 1999. They are physical safety, promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interests, standards for the safety and quality of consumer goods and services, distribution of essential consumer goods and services, measures enabling consumers to obtain legal and administrative measures and education and information programmes.

However, the government’s commitment to implement these provisions remains limited to paper. There are 10 government agencies mandated to inspect the market, but their lacklustre performance has emboldened fraudsters taking advantage of an open market regime.

Several laws designed to protect consumers have been enacted, like the Consumer Protection Act 1998, Black-marketing and Some Other Social Offences and Punishment Act 1975, Food Act 1992, Drugs Act 1978, Nepal Standards Act 1980 and Nepal Health Service Act 1997. But weak implementation and lack of timely revision has allowed wrongdoers to escape action.

The Department of Supply Management filed cases against 26 traders on the charge of cheating consumers in the first eight months of the fiscal year. Most of the businesses against whom proceedings have been imitated are clothes stores and health and education services. However, none of them has been penalised.

Speaking at the programme, consumer rights activists stressed the need to formulate a new Consumer Protection Act with the view of making it an umbrella act. According to them, establishing a consumer court is a must for ensuring prompt action against wrongdoers.

Bimala Khanal, president of the Forum for Protection of Consumers’ Eye Nepal, said the government should ensure that people receive justice within a week with regard to cases related to consumer rights protection. Prem Lal Maharjan, president of the National Consumers’ Forum, said consumers had been suffering with regard to almost all essentials including food, transport, education, health, drinking water and sanitation because of government inaction.

Published: 16-03-2018 13:59

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