Nepal | July 16, 2020

‘Outdated’ laws hit market monitoring

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 10

Regulatory bodies of the government responsible for controlling anomalies in the market themselves have said that outdated laws have become a major hurdle to conduct effective market monitoring.

Officials of both the Department of Supplies and Consumer Welfare Protection (DoSCWP) and the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) have said that existing laws have been holding them back from launching stringent inspection and taking necessary actions to control malpractices in the market.

Speaking at a discussion programme on the government’s role to uphold consumer rights in the Capital today, Gokul Dhital, director general of DoSCWP said, “It is due to prevalence of traditional laws that the regulating government bodies are unable to control unscrupulous activities in the market. For instance, the Consumer Protection Act, 1998 does not even allow DoSCWP to fine traders involved in malpractices in the market.”

As per Dhital, the Consumer Protection Act has allowed DoSCWP to only inspect the market but has not authorised it to penalise and take action against unscrupulous traders.

“As a result of this clause, the role of DoSCWP has been limited to only inspecting the market and filing cases against unscrupulous traders at the District Administration Offices,” he added.

However, Dhital informed that the government is gearing up to reform the Consumer Protection Act, which would allow DoSCWP to take necessary action against wrongdoers. According to him, the new draft of the act allows field inspectors to fine unscrupulous traders up to Rs 100,000 on the spot.

Similarly, the draft also envisions forming a Consumer Court in all the 75 districts of the country, according to him.

Likewise, the draft of the Consumer Protection Policy also has a provision that any consumer-related case that has been filed at the Consumer Court should be dealt with within seven days by the court. “The endorsement of the amendment draft of the act will help control market anomalies to some extent,” said Dhital.

Similarly, Sanjeev Kumar Karn, director general of DoFTQC, said that the department has been facing problems in launching aggressive inspection measures to check the quality of food products in the market due to the five-decade-old Food Act, 1967.

“There were limited firms and products in the market when the Food Act was first introduced. As a result, provisions in the existing Food Act are quite irrelevant for today’s market, which has diversified a lot,” he said.

According to him, such old government laws also have limited punishment provision for market anomalies.

“We are on the verge of making the Food Act more time- and context-friendly by amending different provisions in it. Enforcement of the new draft of Food Act will certainly allow regulators to control ill practices in the market,” added Karn.

Meanwhile, Buddhiram Bhandari, member of the Committee on Commerce, Industries and Consumer Welfare Relations of the Legislature-Parliament, said that the committee has repeatedly directed the government to make existing laws contextual and suitable.

“However, the government is delaying the process to reform old laws and policies. The government should timely reform its laws and make them consumer-friendly,” he stated.

A version of this article appears in print on March 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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