Kathmandu, September 4
The Consumer Protection Bill registered by the government at the Federal Parliament prohibits improper business or market practices.
Improper business or market practices include sale or distribution of goods and services by misleading consumers about their quality, quantity, structure, measurement and weight; sale of goods by publishing or broadcasting false and misleading advertisements in verbal, written or visual forms; overpricing and fixation of price by including the cost of any contest, lottery or scheme; import, sale and distribution of fake goods; denial to provide bill or invoice; and hoarding and creating artificial shortage of goods; among others.
The law also requires producers, manufactures, dealers and sellers to provide service to consumers without discrimination and on ‘first-come-first-served basis’.
The Government of Nepal shall, by notification published in the Nepal Gazette, determine the list of essential foods and other goods or services from time to time. The list shall mention the maximum retail price of foods, goods and services. “No one shall sell goods or services by charging more than the rate fixed by the government,” Section 19 of the bill states.
Each producer or manufacturer shall display the factory price of goods in a visible place. The same provision is applicable to dealers and retailers for maintaining and displaying a list of wholesale and retail prices. The law empowers the government to establish Price Information Centre. “It shall be the duty of the concerned producers or manufacturers, and dealers and retailers to provide the centre with factory price, and wholesale and retail prices of the goods,” it states.
The bill stipulates a provision of a 10-member Consumer Protection Council headed by minister of industry, commerce and supplies to formulate policies and carry out other functions under the law regarding the protection and implementation of consumers’ rights.
Similarly, there shall be a Central Market Monitoring Committee to coordinate with various agencies involved in monitoring or supervision of the supply management of goods or services and their price, quality and purity. The committee will be led by secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and have 10 members.
As per this bill, Local Market Monitoring Committee led by chief of the concerned local level may be formed to ensure the protection of consumers’ rights guaranteed by the constitution and the law. “The ministry or the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Protection of Consumers may immediately inspect any factory, wholesaler and retailer of goods and service if it comes into notice through any complaint or media that they are involved in unethical business practices,” section 29 of the bill states. The department may also conduct a surprise inspection of market for the rights and interests of consumers.
“The department may appoint or designate any officer-level employee of the federal, provincial and local governments as an inspection officer. If the inspection officer finds any suspicious goods during market monitoring, samples of such goods shall be sent to a lab certified by the Government of Nepal for test. Substandard goods shall be confiscated on the spot and destroyed. The expenses to be incurred for confiscation and destruction shall be borne by the concerned manufacturers or sellers,” the bill adds.
Any person who is convicted of crimes under this law shall be imprisoned for a term of maximum five years or imposed a fine of up to Rs 600,000, or both, depending on the gravity the of offence.
A version of this article appears in print on September 05, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.