Protecting the consumer... By Zaheer
04 March, 2013
Securing the interests of the consumer is the paramount responsibility of the state. In Pakistan, this area was ignored due to lack of political will. In 1995, the Islamabad Consumer Protection Act was enacted. It was followed by enactments at the provincial level, for instance the Punjab Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 2005, in the context of devolution of powers plan. Unfortunately, all these laws have remained dormant due to lack of awareness about the laws.
Consumers face severe problems everyday, especially during travel on the G T Road or motorway. They have no other choice but to buy substandard and unhygienic food items at prices much higher than normal, rather double the price in most instances. This is a blatant violation of Article 18 and Article 19 of the Punjab Consumer Protection Act, which requires the seller to display the price list and issue a formal receipt to the purchaser. The violation may be reported to the Punjab Consumer Protection Council (PCPC) but complaints are seldom lodged because the general population is simply unaware of the protection afforded under the law.
The attention of government authorities as well as print and electronic media should be drawn to this problem. The media can play a pivotal role to spread awareness about existing laws. The government may improve its implementation mechanism by allowing complaints through the use of modern means of communication. A helpline or hotline for such complaints may also help consumers to report violations without hassle.
MUHAMMAD ZAHEER ABBAS