Islamabad: To mark the world consumer rights day, civil society, traders, university teachers, political workers, lawyers and other members of the society have demanded of the government and Islamabad District Administration to immediately activate 17 years old consumer protection law by activating consumer protection council in Islamabad and a National Consumer Policy.
This demand was made during a seminar “Energy Sector Regulations & the Consumer in Pakistan” and a candle lit event organized by TheNetwork for Consumer Protection in front of National Press Club.
A large number of people participated in both events who demanded that on the pattern of Punjab District Consumer Protection Councils an exclusive Consumer Courts should be established in Islamabad and through out Pakistan.
‘Consumer Justice Now’ is the theme of this year’s Consumer Rights Day. Consumer International: an umbrella body of over 200 organizations, TheNetwork being the only one from Pakistan, in over 115 countries have observed this day.
Consumer International’s message is that : “ Good consumer protection is not just about legislation, it can deliver justice, create a fairer society and even save lives”
Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Coordinator of TheNetwork said that it is not only the government’s responsibility that necessary legislation and mechanisms are evolved but that the consumers must be educated and periodic surveys be conducted to assess consumers satisfactionlevel.
Robert Kolling, Advisor secretary Water and Power said that right to safety is a very pertinent consumer right in the energy sector saying that there needs to a national electric code that needs to be developed to control around 90 casualties per year in this sector.
He identified some of the critical areas that needs to be addressed by consumer groups including circular debt of Rs 462 billion that will ultimately boiled down to consumers and the definition of lifeline consumers which is yet to be defined by the government.
He said though he has decades of experience in energy and two years with the water and power ministry in Pakistan but he has yet to understand the complexity in determination of the consumer tariff.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Rabia Auranzeb, Assistant Commissioner Islamabad, said that there is a consumer compliant cell in the district council office that receives consumers’ complaints and efficiently addressed those. However, she admitted that a lot of work stillneeds to be done in this field.
Imran Hashmi, professor from NUST also spoke on the occasion saying that stundents can be involved in investigating any consumer issue in and around Islamabad.
The finding of a study conducted by TheNetwork on the Energy Sector and the Consumer Protection was shared among the participants in the form of A Policy Brief; “Energy Sector Regulations & Consumer in Pakistan” under the Energy Project funded by the United States Agency for International development (USAID).
Highlighting the recommendations of the study, Ms Amna Bano, Project Coordinator, TheNetwork, said that there must be enhanced synergy between the proceedings of provincial and district consumer councils; awareness programs on consumer rights must be designed and implemented and the appointment of consumer advocates in each district providing awareness and education to these councils on consumer rights through curriculum, there should be formation of an appellate bench in respective high courts for speedy adjudication of the appeals filed against the decisions of the consumer courts and the eight basic consumer rights, recognized by the United Nations shall be adopted and implemented by Pakistan in letter and spirit.