Consumer Affairs Ministry signed Memorandum of Understandings with industry bodies to promote consumer welfare on the World Consumer Day which was celebrated on the 22nd of March.
MoUs were signed in the presence of Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan during the celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day organised by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
World Consumer Rights Day:
The World Consumer Rights Day is an annual occasion for celebration of and reinforcing the solidarity among stakeholders of the international consumer movement.
The World Consumer Rights Day is an opportunity to promote and protect the basic rights of consumers.
This year's theme for the World Consumer Rights Day is "antibiotics off the menu."
The consumer movement has been increasingly vocal on the topic of overuse of antibiotics in farming, according to them it leads to emergence of drug resistant bacteria.
What does MoUs cover:
The MoUs broadly cover the collaborative programmes on developing and implementing a self-regulatory code of fair business practices. Establishing a Consumer Affairs division/vertical within the Industry Body, initiating advocacy action against unfair trade practices and preventing fake, counterfeit and sub-standard products and services and adoption of voluntary standards by Industry members have been agreed upon in MoUs.
Earmarking of CSR funds for consumer awareness and protection activities, partnering with the National Consumer Helpline and State Consumer Helplines for grievance redressal; launching joint consumer awareness, education and training programmes will also be taken up by the industry as per MoUs signed.
A Joint Working Group will monitor the implementation of agenda.
A self-regulatory Code of ethical business conduct released:
A self-regulatory Code of ethical business conduct released on the occasion by Mr. Paswan, covers six broad principles to be adopted by the Industry on safety of products and services, building sustainable supply chains, marketing products ethically, non-indulgence in unfair trade practices, complying with competition and anti-trust laws & prompt response to consumer complaints.
Government, Industry and Voluntary Consumer Organizations will work to popularise the code amongst industry and business and ensure that it is increasingly adhered to.
At the event Mr. Paswan said:
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Paswan termed the year 2016 as being historical for consumer protection as the Government is set to re-create the Consumer Protection Act.
He said, the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, already introduced in Parliament, is wide and seeks to remove the existing bottlenecks in regulation to prevent unfair trade practices.
Specifically, a Central Consumer Protection Authority is proposed to be created to effectively deal with unfair trade practices and order recall of products and impose fines.
The existing network of consumer commissions will also be strengthened to ensure speedy disposal of the cases.
These provisions will have far reaching implications and would further improve the performance of the functioning of the machinery in protecting the interests of consumers.
Mr. Paswan said the recently passed BIS Bill is another major step to promote consumer welfare as it would introduce a culture of quality assurance in products and services through the enforcement of mandatory or voluntary compliance with Indian Standards through conformity assessment schemes.
The Minister also announced de-materialising of warranties whereby the consumers need not keep the documents related to warrantees and guarantees in physical forms. The industry will henceforth maintain the stock of warranties on behalf of each and every consumer in digital format.
The Minister added that no business can sustain its growth unless the consumers are satisfied.
Realising the importance of working together with all the stakeholders to further the interests of consumers as well as the Industry, Department of Consumer Affairs has initiated a Government-Industry partnership on consumer advocacy in the area of redress of consumer grievances, enhancement of consumer awareness and protection and action against misleading advertisements and fake and counterfeit products.