The Irrawaddy

‘Stronger’ Consumer Protection Law Submitted to Lower House

NAYPYITAW — The Commerce Ministry on Monday submitted a bill to the Lower House amending the Consumer Protection Law.

“We’ve studied guidelines and laws on consumer protection in ASEAN countries, and designed a new law that is appropriate for our country,” Deputy Commerce Minister U Aung Htoo said.

The existing law, which was enacted in 2014, lacks provisions guaranteeing consumers’ interests, the deputy minister said.

Additionally, under the current law there is duplication of responsibilities between the central committee for consumer protection, the Consumer Affairs Department and consumer dispute-resolution bodies at the regional, state and district levels, the deputy minister said.

“The existing law is not effective. It was designed in consultation with employers only. This time, relevant civil society organizations participated in designing the new law. So, we think it will be more effective,” Myanmar Consumers Union secretary U Maung Maung told The Irrawaddy.

There are no by-laws under the existing Consumer Protection Law, and there are difficulties in applying the law, he said.

One of the most significant changes to the law is that it would allow police to open cases against suspected violators. Previously, action could only be taken when somebody filed a complaint.

“The new law also allows consumers to sue producers and importers if they have a grievance. And the definition of goods and services has been broadened,” U Nay Myo Tun, a lawmaker on the Lower House Bill Committee, told reporters.

The new law reduces the prison term from three to two years, but markedly increases the fine from 5 million kyats to 150 million kyats.

It aims to ensure consumer safety and satisfaction, strengthen consumer protection bodies, and improve the quality of goods and services, according to the Commerce Ministry.