12 business entities fined for various business violations

A farm shop and a vegetable shop in Thimphu Throm were disallowed to operate during the lockdown

The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) imposed fines to an additional 12 business entities amounting to Nu 1 57,200 in Thimphu for various types of business violations.

However, Thimphu records around 43 business entities that have been imposed penalties amounting to Nu 2 28,414 for various types of business violations as of February 10.

Chief Program Officer Jigme Dorji said that a total of 96 consumer complaints have been received through various channels and that all genuine complaints have been redressed. 

“Overcharging on vegetables and essentials items is a common complaint during the lockdown,” he said, adding that those fined were following an investigation by the OCP based on consumers’ complaints received through the toll-free number 1214. 

He shared that the 12 additional business entities are from Thimphu Throm and so far the OCP has closed or disallowed only two business entities.

“A farm shop and a vegetable shop in Thimphu were disallowed to operate during the lockdown,” he said.

He added that these two business entities repeatedly failed to comply with prescribed rates of vegetables despite warnings and imposing penalties. 

“It was discovered that vendors and shopkeepers unfairly charged high prices on vegetables and fruits sold in Thimphu Thromde,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the frontline team of the OCP inspected on an average 65 business entities on a daily basis covering various markets and different types of businesses to ensure fair trade practices by business entities authorized to operate.

According to the OCP, around 1,104 business entities in Thimphu Thromde were inspected, including some repeated visits as of yesterday. The businesses include fruit and vegetable shops, wholesalers, grocery shops, meat shops, LPG delivery agents, Bhutan Oil Distributor, and medical shops.

Of the total complaints, 51.4% of the complaints were related to shops selling above the prescribed rates, 24.2% related to exorbitant prices of groceries, and 24.2% related to the sale of expired products.

About 70% of the consumers complained mostly related to shops not complying with the maximum selling price of vegetables, according to the OCP.

Jigme Dorji said that even though the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) issued a notice outlining the fixed selling prices of fruits and vegetables during the lockdown, some vendors sold beyond the fixed price, which was found to be an unfair and unethical trading practice.

He added that the vendors were already informed not to take advantage of the current situation and that the OCP will not tolerate any unfair practices during the lockdown.

“They were also warned about the stern actions that will be taken, including the cancellation of the business license if necessary,” he said. 

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu