Thursday, June 13, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

CONSUMERS’ RIGHTS DAY 2024 FRIDAY

Consumers’ rights violation commonplace, why can’t the directorate go full throttle?

  • World Consumer Rights Day observed on March 15 
  • Raise awareness about consumer rights, needs
Update : 14 Mar 2024, 12:10 PM

World Consumer Rights Day, observed on March 15 every year, is a global event that aims to raise awareness about consumer rights and needs. Consumer rights mean that every person who buys various products, goods, and services, has the right to get them at a just price, in pure condition, and in the right quantity. 

This year, Bangladesh is observing the day on Friday at a critical juncture when consumers are having a hard time negotiating high prices of the essentials and often experiencing deceit through the compromised qualities of products and services. 

The government says there’s a full machinery – in the form of a consumers’ right directorate – at work so that consumers aren’t cheated but, the directorate says it’s failing to live up to public expectations owing to issues related to its capacity. 

Ever since the Directorate of National Consumers’ Rights Protection (DNCRP) was established through the passage of the Consumers’ Rights Protection Act in 2009, the directorate kept trying to advance its fight for rights protection but has been limping with a scarcity of manpower and other logistics.

Over the last couple of years, the DNCRP several times has moved the public administration ministry seeking approval of its revised organigram with a higher number of manpower according to requirement. The ministry, however, turned down the pleas.

An assistant director of the DNCRP working in a divisional headquarters told Dhaka Tribune on Monday that the directorate currently has only one officer and one support staff in each of its district office. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the DNCRP officer said: “Given the magnitude of rights violations in market places all over the country, we should be conducting drives at all district and upazila levels regularly. But with the current two-strong district offices we can’t monitor the markets in our mandated areas, all upazilas.”

Currently, there are approved posts of 124 officers and employees in district offices and 72 more in divisional offices, but DNCRP sources told this correspondent that many of these approved posts remain vacant. 

Consumers complain that compared to the level of deceit taking place in market places, the actions taken by a below-capacity DNCRP aren’t good enough to make any difference.

DNCRP’s role over the past 14 years

Between 2009 and 2023, the DNCRP realized over Tk113 crore in fines by penalizing as many as 163,239 product sellers and service providers. 

Besides, the directorate has also rewarded 8,488 consumers, whose complaints had led to the realization of over Tk6 crore in fines from rights-violating sellers. As per provisions of the Consumers’ Rights Protection Act-2009, the consumers who did lodge complaints received 25% (approximately Tk1.5 crore) of the realized fines.

Traders and service providers are generally penalized on charges of charging higher prices, product adulteration, deceiving in weight and measurement, false claims on product quality, etc. 

The directorate officials say they could always encourage the consumers to lodge more complaints and could also conduct more market drives on their own had the government provided them with the required manpower, budget and other logistics.

Consumers, anywhere in Bangladesh, can call the directorate hotline (16121) or lodge complaints by logging on to its website – the service is free of charge. Once a complaint is lodged, the directorate provides the consumer concerned a tracking number and once the DNCRP finally resolves the issue and slams fines on the traders or service providers, the plaintiff gets 25 percent of the penalty money as reward automatically.

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