Consumer's Rights Day

Several speakers on Consumer Rights Day (CRD) on Tuesday urged consumers to point out the sale of substandard items and to boycott the use of luxury items.
A series of seminars regarding consumer rights were held all over the province and different speakers and businessmen addressed the issue of consumer protection and the need to spread awareness among consumers about their rights.

In Lahore, speaking at the Punjab Cultural Complex near Gaddafi Stadium and Aaiwan-i-Adl they talked about existing consumer codes in Pakistan. Addressing the participants, they drew their attention towards the importance of the day and emphasised the need for consumers to oppose routine prices hikes for daily use items in the market.

Industries, Commerce and Investment Department secretary Dr Shujaat Ali, Justice Dr Nasira Javed Iqbal, Provincial Consumer Protection Council (PCPC) director Saeed Akhtar Ansari, former PCPC director Nadeem Irshaad Kiani and several others attended the seminar organised by the Provincial Consumer Protection Council (PCPC) at the Punjab Cultural Complex near Qaddafi Stadium.

Addressing the participants, Dr Shujaat Ali said “It is the government’s duty to stop those selling substandard food items to people. It is also the government’s responsibility to check the sale of artificially enhanced meat and poultry items which are often unsafe.” Ali said that consumers also shared a responsibility to point out violations to the administration. “We can see the sovereignty of consumers in developed countries as they easily return items to shopkeepers – even 10 days after the sale – if the goods turn out to be of poor quality,” he said.
Justice Iqbal said that consumers needed to begin demanding a receipt for the goods they were sold and that they should check the date and address of the sales point. “Shopkeepers will only begin dealing with customers honestly when the customer calls them on their negligence. The ‘customer is always right’ policy requires the customer to know his or her rights,” she said. Iqbal said that politicians responsible of price hikes were usually the owners of sugar mills. “If politicians ‘play’ with sugar and wheat prices than the people need to call them out on it and take them to the consumer court,” she said.  She said that it was time to stand up and fight against the price hick and substandard items.

Similar seminars were also held at Multan, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur.
The District Consumer Protection Council (DCPC) also organised a seminar at Aaiwan-e-Adal where the lawyers addressed participants. The lawyers also stressed the need for creating awareness about the subject possibly through a media campaign.
Meanwhile, some participants expressed strong reservations at ‘educating the poor’ about consumer issues because they would be ‘sandwiched between the government and traders’.

A student group from Collage of Accountancy and Finance left the venue after the PCPC director removed their colleague Kashif Latif from the rostrum for expressing such reservations. Kashif, addressing the participants, lashed out at Industries secretary Dr Shujaat Ali. “It is astonishing how the guests seem to be speaking with such authority about poor but not a single one of them has been invited here. This seems to be a seminar for the elite to pontificate about the plight of the poor.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2011.