Thursday, 7 July, 2022

CAB demands separate division to protect consumer rights

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has demanded forming a separate division to ensure consumer rights, citing that the present directorate is not enough to safeguard consumer rights effectively.

The Consumer rights watchdog observed that the structure of the commerce ministry prevents it from protecting consumers, while the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection (DNCRP) is sufficient for the job.

Although it sought a dedicated division for this on an urgent basis, it felt the necessity of a full ministry to safeguard the consumers. It also warned against waging a movement, if the demand is not fulfilled.   

CAB placed its demand at a seminar called “Consumers subjected to Profiteering and Cheating: No Respect for Law” held on a virtual platform on Monday.

“Now, the consumers have no alternative to going to the Director-General of DNCRP. We also find it hard to make any complaints anywhere,” commented CAB senior vice-president Dr M Shamsul Alam. 

“We want to convey the message that only consumers directorate is not enough for protecting the interest of the consumers. We want a division in this regard,” he added.

“For this, we have been demanding a separate ministry for a long time. We might have to go for a movement to realize our demand,” he said further. 

In his keynote paper, CAB vice-president SM Nazer Hossain alleged that despite frequent market drives carried out by the concerned agencies, the activities of the unscrupulous businessmen have not stopped.

“The foundation of these unscrupulous businessmen is so strong that the government administration seems to be helpless before them. With their financial might, they can utilise bureaucrats, law enforcers and media in favour of them,” Nazer argued.  

Similarly, the culprits behind powdered milk adulteration and the scams behind sugar, soybean oil and rice have not been brought to book earlier and they remained behind the scene, he alleged.

A section of people is making quick bucks by turning the country into the market and lab for counterfeit food items because of people’s ignorance about consumer rights and lack of unity, he also alleged.

CAB also slammed the government and the multilateral donors, who it says, don’t take any effective steps towards making consumers aware although they give benefits to businessmen and chambers.

As a result, an imbalance has been created between the business people and the consumers in the country, which is a big hurdle to sound flourishing of business, it said. 

“Business is not only a means of money-making; it is also a service. But an item’s price manipulation by removing the original price can’t be called business. It is cheating, which is also a criminal offence,” Nazer Hossain pointed out. 

while the law is not enough to control such criminal activities, he suggested boycotting these profiteers, cheats, hoarders and unscrupulous businessmen socially to ensure accountability and governance in the business sector.

Dr Shamsul Alam added that the consumers in the country have been caged and none of the law and government institutions is successful in breaking the shackles. 

He called upon the consumers to identify at least one such fraudulent activity in every district so that CAB can file criminal case against the responsible persons with proof as it has the authority for filing cases. 

Voktakantha Editor Kazi Abdul Hannan said such fraudulent activities shoot up ahead of the two Eid festivals and now the dishonest traders are trying to increase commodity prices ahead of budget.