SECURING the interest of consumers is the paramount responsibility of a state. In Pakistan this area remains ignored owing to the lack of political will. In 1995, the Islamabad Consumer Protection Act was enacted. It was followed by enactments at provincial level. For instance, the Punjab Consumer Protection Act (CPA) came into being in 2005.
Unfortunately, all these laws have remained dormant due to lack of awareness about the laws.
Consumers face severe problems every day, especially during travel on G.T. Road or the motorway. They have no other choice but to buy substandard and unhygienic foodstuff at a price much higher than normal, rather double the price in most instances.
This is blatant violation of Article 18 and Article 19 of the Punjab Consumer Protection Act, which requires the seller to display a price list and issue a formal receipt to the buyer.
The violation may be reported to the Punjab Consumer Protection Council (PCPC), but complaints are seldom lodged because the public is simply unaware of the protection afforded under the law.
Attention of government authorities, as well as of the media, is drawn to this problem. The media can play a vital role in spreading awareness about the existing laws. The government may improve the 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.
ZAHEER ABBAS Islamabad