Even though the Consumer Protection Act came into effect in 1998, Nepali consumers have
to fork out inflated prices, withstand long delays
in service delivery and suffer from health
threats posed by substandard goods. The act provisions that consumers have detailed knowledge of the products they use, know about their health hazards (if any) and are compensated against exploitation and hardship resulting from unfair trading practices. With Dashain at hand, traders tend to hoard essential goods, creating shortages and reaping huge profits on the black market.
As envisioned by the act, a consumer protection committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of the supplies minister. But the council seldom meets. Also, consumer activists say lack
of knowledge and reluctance on the part of consumers to speak up against substandard products and inflated prices has made the problem worse
in the last few years. Though laws exist to take
care of the problem, they are being flouted with impunity by unscrupulous traders. The government clearly lacks the willpower to take action against the defaulters. Otherwise, what is the point of constituting the consumer protection committee when it does not even meet? Only concerted effort of all those affected by loopholes in consumer act will safeguard the buyers’ rights.