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Friday, November 16, 2012
Business

Analysts see loopholes in consumer rights law

Rights to financial services were not reflected in the act

The rights of people to various services, including the financial services, have not been reflected properly in the Consumer Rights Protection Act, said an economist yesterday.

"A lot has been put in the law regarding the rights of consumers for using goods. But the law has not focused in details on the rights of consumers in getting various services, including banking services," said Centre for Policy Dialogue's Executive Director Mustafizur Rahman.

He pointed to the loopholes in the law at a discussion on the use of Right to Information Act for effective enforcement of the law on consumer rights protection by the government.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) with the support of Manusher Jonno Foundation organised the programme at the National Press Club in Dhaka.

Retired Justice Mohammed Mumtaz Uddin Ahmed said the law suffers from various limitations.

"So it requires amendment," he said.

The law gives rights to an aggrieved consumer to file civil cases. But it is not clear how to file civil petitions and what the court fee will be, he added.

"The law should be amended to allow us to file case at an assistant judge's court. It will be easier for consumers to file petition at such a court," said Ahmed.

There should be no provision of court fee for filing cases to seek compensation for being deceived by businesses, he added.

Rahman of the CPD suggested the use of information technology for creating awareness of the laws to protect consumers' rights and ensure right to information.

Zakir Hossain, executive director of Nagorik Uddyog, an NGO, called for making the Department of National Consumer Rights Protection an effective body to ensure the rights of the consumers.

He said the "right to information act" gives people the scope to ask the commerce ministry the reasons of delays in making the body effective.

Citing prices of medicine, he said the prices of medicine, including tablets, should be written on the packages.

Abdul Baten Mia, director of Department of National Consumer Rights Protection, said one of the main weaknesses of the law is that aggrieved consumers cannot directly file cases seeking justice against the businesses.

Consumers have to lodge complaints to the Department first. If the Department takes the matter into cognizance after investigation, the aggrieved person can go to court, he said.

He also said the law does not provide scope for appeal against fine.

Since April 2010, the consumer rights protection body has realised fine worth Tk 5.60 crore for reasons including food adulteration.

It also helped some complainants get compensation, he said.

Mia called upon consumers to file more complaints. "We are carrying out drives to ensure consumer rights through mobile courts. At the same time, consumers will have to file complaints to safeguard their rights," he said.

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