Proactive Sindh govt steps for Consumer Rights hinted

KARACHI: Sindh government has shown its willingness to immediately re-notify, and if need be, reconstitute the Consumer Protection Council set up in the wake of the notification of Consumer Courts in 2019, says a Press release.
The commitment was expressed by Sindh government’s Agriculture, Supply, and Prices Secretary, Abdul Rahim Soomro, while speaking at a seminar was organized by the Helpline Trust to mark the Word Consumer Rights Day.
In his opening remarks, Helpline Trust’s Founding Trustee, Hamid A Maker said that a mass awareness campaign was compulsory to ensure protection of consumer rights in the country.
He pointed out that the Sindh Consumer Protection Act and Consumer Courts were formed in 2019, along with the Consumer Council. However, there was no mass awareness about the courts or the Council members among the people, and it remained totally non-functional as even the civil society members nominated were not informed about their inclusion or ToRs.
The Secretary Agriculture said that he would immediately move a summary to the provincial cabinet to re-notify or reconstitute the Consumer Protection Council and invited the stakeholders present at the seminar to meet with him in this connection.
On behalf of the Sindh government, he also assured fullest support to run a proper mass awareness campaign to make people of the province know about their due rights as enshrined in the Sindh Consumer Protection Act-2014.
Afia Salam, trustee of Helpline, who moderated the seminar, presented the figures of the number of cases registered and disposed of since the formation of the courts and pointed out that there were some districts in Sindh where no cases had been filed despite widespread complaints. So far only 295 had been and of these 295 cases, 196 have been disposed of while 99 were still pending in the consumer courts
The figures were sourced with the help of Sindh Commission for Human Rights through its Chairwoman, Justice Majida Razvi, another trustee of The Helpline Trust.
Soomro agreed to effectively use media for mass awareness. He also accepted the suggestion of translating the Consumer Protection Law into Urdu and Sindhi languages.
Speaking on the occasion, Ahmad Shabbar of the startup GarbageCan explained the importance of the theme for this year, Plastic Pollution, and how individuals, companies and organizations can collaborate with the government to weed out the problem.
Ms Nageen, Head of Corporate and Government Affairs of National Foods also gave an example of a successful scaling up of an initiative on the part of their industry to train the farmers to produce quality products to benefit their consumers. The Sindh Government picked up the model to implement it on a larger scale.
Vice-President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Athar Sultan Chawla, urged the government to effectively implement rights of both the producers and consumers of goods in the country.
Musharraf of Hilton Pharma emphasized the role of the industrial sector in realizing its responsibility by treating effluent at source and call on government to put up treatment plants as this also constitutes a part of consumer rights.
Dr. Sheikh Kaiser Waheed, representing the Pharma industry busted many myths regarding the price and quality of locally made medicines, pointing out that with improvement in the diet of environmental indicators, if something has extended the life expectancy of the Pakistani citizen it is the medicines within their reach.
NFEH President Naeem Qureshi, also a Helpline Trustee called for greater public private and civil society collaboration to ensure the safeguarding of the rights of the consumers.
In her closing remarks, Justice Majida Razvi also suggested the inclusion of more women judges in the cadre that has been designated to hear consumer complaints. She said that women consumers would feel more comfortable appearing before female judges as these complaints are not necessarily filed through lawyers and they would have to appear themselves.

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