Consumer complaints flood CCAA

CCAA winds up market surveillance in two Dzongkhags

The surveillances in Paro and Haa uncovered expired stocks on the shelves and uncalibrated weighs

The problem of inadequate labeling is still prevalent in the Bhutanese market with locally made and re-packed products, while an alarming number of shops sold expired items, where others had their weighing machines out of contortion.

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) in its recent market surveillance in Paro and Haa Dzongkhags found out that 61% of the firms fulfilled the price labeling and display requirement. 4 shops in Haa and 15 shops in Paro had expired stocks, including biscuits, noodles, chips, sauces and spices.

A total of 244 business entities were covered during this period comprising 4 petroleum retail outlets (PRO), 74 restaurants and hotels, 19 garment shops, 120 groceries, 3 hardware shops, 7 beauty parlors/salons, 3 bakeries, 5 tailoring shops, 4 vegetable vendors and 5 meat shops.

During the surveillance, it was found that 52% of all business firms issue pre-printed cash memo/receipts. Of the 123 groceries and bakeries, it was found that 13% do not meet the minimum labeling requirements.

From the total of 85 weighing balances in 81 firms, only 36% were calibrated, 12% was due for calibration and 52 % were using uncalibrated weighing devices. The density of Motor Spirit (MS) and High-Speed Diesel (HSD) at all 6 PROs were within permissible range (ยฑ3 kg/m3). Likewise, the water content in the storage tanks were all within the maximum acceptable limits (8 cm) in all PROs. The volume of fuel dispensed at all the PROs were within the permissible range of 0.5% (ยฑ0.5% = 25ml). The measuring jars at PRO (Bhutan Oil Distributor) Haa and PRO (DPDPL) Paro were due for calibration.

It was noticed that all (100%) fire extinguishers in all the PROs in Haa and Paro were well within their expiry dates. The PRO (DPDPL) at Paro had not installed a weighing machine for LPG cylinders. Additionally, the weighing machines at PRO (BOD) at Haa and PRO (DPCL) at Shaba were not calibrated. The surveillance also exposed about LPG stores/outlets not located within the PRO premises and not separated.

Those shops with expired stocks were fined a total of Nu 3,670 and Nu 45,747 respectively. In addition, expired products were seized by BFDA.

The PRO (DPDPL) at Paro and PRO (BOD) at Haa were directed to keep valid calibrated brass cans measuring 5Ltrs. The PRO (DPDPL) at Paro was directed to procure a new weighing balance and inform CCAA within 14 days from the date of inspection. The complete list of the all business entities which required weights and measures calibration and recalibration were dispatched to Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB). The CCAA directed all the PROs to rectify minor violations to be in full compliance to the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG.

It was decided to inform the Department of Trade (DoT) about the LPG outlets being operated from PRO premises in Paro and Haa and the need to separate them as per the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG.

With the support of officials from the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA), Paro, the CCAA carried out market surveillance in the major market places of Haa and Paro Dzongkhags over a period of 14 days starting March 5, 2024,

Paro town, Lamgong, Tsento, Doteng, Bonday, Shaba and Isunu were the places in Paro where the surveillance was carried out. The areas covered in Haa consisted Haa town, Damthang, and Katsho.

The primary objective of the market surveillance was to inspect compliance by business firms with the regulatory requirements outlined in the Consumer Protection Act, 2012, and the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations, 2015.

By Tashi Namgyal, Thimphu