Shadman Muhtasim Chowdhury
Bangladesh is a small country with a large population, thus giving rise to a huge consumer base. It has been 48 years since Bangladesh’s independence but consumer rights are yet to bemade and enforced in a notable manner. The developed countries in the world have given significant emphasis on consumer rights, where as in Bangladesh it is still a work in progress.
In simple terms, consumers are persons who use or consume any product or goods in exchange of price. To elaborate, a person who uses or consumes products or services are consumers, ranging from the prime minister of a country to a farm worker in the village.
Consumer protection, in the broader sense, refers to the laws and regulations that ensure fair interaction between service providers and consumers. The right to “safe goods and services” is included in the “right to life” which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 32 of the Constitution. Now-a-days, the consumers are much worried about what they buy and eat, from kitchen markets to posh restaurants. We as consumers have the “right to choose and buy” the necessary services; at the same time we are also entitled by law to be provided with “safe goods and services”.
Though we have laws in our country prohibiting illicit activities against the rights of the consumers, they are not strictly being enforced. The “right to information” is a basic right of all citizens. Similarly, securing consumer rights are also needed. It is quite hard to find any advertisements on TV channels, or even a billboard or posters for letting people know about these rights.
In Bangladesh, it is common for traders to serve products in the markets that are not really “safe”. Most of the fishes, meats, fruits and vegetables are mixed with preservative chemicals which are in fact hazardous to human body. Fast foods and other food products are mostly adulterated or prepared in unhealthy environments.
With everything said and done, things have changed. Government has started to take interest in this matter. The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) stated that it seeks to incorporate 25 services, including property rental, real estate, and mobile banking and online services such as e-commerce, in the existing CRPA 2009 so that it can address issues in these areas.
Protection of consumer rights empowers the consumers and makes them more confident. Thus it helps boost competition and spur economic growth. In this regard, there is a need to formulate a competition law in order to increase competitiveness among businesses so that consumers around the country can avail quality goods and services at fair prices.
The writer works at Bangladesh Post