As the world celebrated the Consumer’s Day Monday the plight of consumers has come under scrutiny. What we have are obsolete consumers’ laws that are clearly insufficient in the present context. The prevailing market-related problems cannot be addressed by these decades-old laws so an umbrella law and a separate mechanism to implement consumers’ laws and regulations should preferably be in force. The ideal law, as mooted by those savvy, is for a consumer-centric umbrella one that would ensure four basic rights-the right to be safe, the right to choose freely, the right to be heard and the right to be informed. Looking at how things are it is very clear that consumer rights are not being protected, and the present laws that are supposed to guarantee the rights of the consumers are not effective. As a result, the consumers are taking a beating be it unjustified price rise or the quality of the products they buy. The prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed, particularly in the past couple of years. The price of sugar, for example, has been increasing at such a pace that the consumers are bewildered. Besides, the petroleum products’ prices have been raised for the umpteenth time. Those making unreasonable price hikes often form cartels or have monopolies about which the consumers can do little.
The inflation rate prevalent now is one of the highest ever, and the economy is in doldrums making the consumers suffer with a few taking advantage of the mayhem to cheat them without any consideration. What, even if the consumers are somehow managing to buy the “expensive” essentials, there is no
guarantee that they
are up to the required standard. This is a gross
violation of the rights of the consumers for in some cases it would be playing with their health. Thus, adulteration of items such as foodstuffs and even petroleum products is not uncommon. Yet those involved in selling such spurious commodities manage to evade the hands of the law and go away scot-free, and in the most cases, they go on undeterred carrying on cheating the consumers.
Therefore, the umbrella law that would protect
the rights of the consumers should be implemented as soon as possible. Furthermore, the consumers should not be taken for granted. What more, it is
from the consumers that the traders and entrepreneurs earn their livelihood. So the concerns of the consumers should figure foremost in all schemes. A good beginning could be by punishing those indulging in black marketing and hoarding and creating artificial shortages of essential commodities enabling them to sell commodities at inflated prices. These are only some ways how the consumers are cheated outright, there are others too many of them of a serious nature. Meanwhile, the consumers should not take the violation of their rights sitting down. They must be constantly on the vigil. Under the circumstances, the various bodies working to ensure the rights of the consumers have added responsibility to make the consumers aware of their rights, at the same time seeing to it that they are not violated as would be stated in the umbrella law.
What is illegal naturally attracts greater attention. It is not because of the inherent curiosity, but there’s more money to be made in dabbling with it. Just for example take the case of marijuana farming in some areas of the Terai region and that hammers in the point that the easier but unlawful activities have buyers. Every knowledgeable Nepali knows that growing, transporting, selling or purchasing marijuana is not allowed by the law. Yet, the lucrative market for cannabis has many farmers opting for its cultivation as more lucre is to be had without the extensive labour that has to invested for ordinary crops. The headache for marijuana farmers could be the law enforcement personnel, otherwise the said saplings do not need much attention and mature in their own time to the delight of the farmers concerned.
The fact remains that many farmers of marijuana still escape any action because money plays a
role to protect the illegal trade. And, addiction
as such in the country for narcotic substances,
including cannabis and hashish, has seen a
dramatic rise in recent years, which also fuels criminal activities. So, it’s wiser to deal a blow at the source that is at the plantation site itself.