By Shehana Dain
New amendments to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act are being studied by its Board before finalisation.
The Consumer Affairs Authority Act No. 9 of 2003 has been criticised by several parties, citing it as outdated and urging its amendment since 2014.
Half of the process has already been finalised while the remainder will be concluded in the near future, according to a top CAA official.
Addressing a press conference last morning, CAA Director General A.K.D.D.D. Arandara said: “Once it is finalised, we will forward it to the Ministry and subsequently expect to submit the amendment proposals. The current fine structure is fair in most areas, as we see it, yet when we apprehend fraudulent traders who have proceeded with big stocks of substandard goods, we see a disparity in the structure. Therefore, we will recognise where higher fines are needed and propose reforms.”
Following the uproar on substandard rice in the market, the CAA had raided 33 rice mills in the country on Monday. A special tip off had resulted in raiding officers finding one rice mill in Kurunegala last Thursday (11) which fell far short of proper standards. The rice mill had been trying to sell ‘repolished rice,’ which had been set aside as animal food.
“After we received the tip off, without any delay we dispatched our teams to raid these places and now the wrongdoers have been presented to Court for further proceedings, where they will be fined,” Arandara added.
The CAA has conducted 1,639 raids in January compared to only 153 in the corresponding period last year. The revenue collected from the raids has increased by almost 300% to Rs. 9.7 million from Rs. 2.5 million last year for the month of January. The increase in raids and revenue could be most likely due to the MRPs enforced on six essential items during the latter part of 2015.
The DG mentioned that the CAA required 100 more staff members in addition to the 200 personnel currently in the team to conduct raids in the country mainly focusing on the north and east.
“For us in the south, we are familiar with raids and aware of the rules. We need additional staff not only to go ahead with raids but also to create awareness about the rules and regulations as there are many new retails outlets coming up in that area of the country.”
CAA announces ‘Reward the Consumer Week’ for first time in Sri Lanka
Commemorating World Consumer Rights Day, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) is to launch a special week rewarding consumers, concentrating on strengthening the bond between traders and customers.
The idea was conceived by CAA Chairman Hasitha Thilakaratne as he wishes to do something beyond the conventional seminars that are held annually on 15 March, World Consumer Rights Day.
“This will be an annual fixture in the events calendar of Sri Lanka covering the entire country. It gives an opportunity for traders to give discounts, benefits and other special offers on products and services across the country,” Thilakaratne noted.
He also stated that Lanka Sathosa was on board the initiative and had consented to give discounts on 125 items, while Nalaka Exercises Books, supermarkets and the Private Hospitals Association were also interested.
Aligning with the international theme for 2016 World Consumer Day, the authority has also initiated an awareness program titled ‘Antibiotics off the Menu’ to educate the public on the adverse impact of antibiotics on livestock.