Consumer rights activists on Wednesday figured out that government bodies that were formed to protect consumer rights cannot be fully functional because of their structural weakness and inadequate and unskilled manpower. It may be the reason why the government cannot ensure safe food even after enacting a host of laws in this regard.
Several laws have been enacted in recent years to protect consumer rights, ensure food safety and fair competition and to control use of formalin and tobacco. Some bodies have also been formed to implement those, but they cannot play the expected role because of their structural weakness.
So as it turned out, the real challenge for the government lies not in enactment of the laws, but in its strict enforcement. As the government fails to ensure strict enforcement of the laws related to consumer rights, food adulteration and price manipulation is still rampant.
The government’s weakness in implementing its decisions is also evident from the fact that its price fixation system does not work. Hardly any foodstuffs are sold in the market according to prices fixed by the government. Take the price of beef as an example. The authorities fixed the price of beef at Tk 420 per kg in Dhaka city, but they can do nothing when beef is being widely sold at Tk 500 per unit.
It is disconcerting that manipulators are allowed to rule the roost in the country’s market according to their sweet will. Their malpractice harms legitimate business and consumers alike and their illegal activities undermine the rule of law as well. The TCB could be an effective tool against unscrupulous businessmen and hoarders, but its capacity is limited and its officials are allegedly engaged in corruption. They often sacrifice their duties for their petty personal gains.
It is hoped that the authorities concerned will take all necessary steps to strengthen public bodies so that these bodies can effectively implement the rules and regulations. It has to be done to keep prices of essential commodities in check and to check food adulteration as well.