Nu 0.24mn fine levied in last four months

This is in the last four months from January-April this year

A fine of Nu 0.24mn was imposed this year for unethical trade practices in the last four months from January-April by the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP).

In addition, the OCP also facilitated refunds of around Nu 2mn to the aggrieved consumers.

The OCP has penalized 42 shops for violating provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, rules, and regulations in April month alone, according to OCP’s Chief Program Officer Jigme Dorji.

He shared that the inspection was done in collaboration with the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), whereas 42 shops selling expired products were fined Nu 16,125. The expired products were flour (Atta and Maida), chips, biscuits, noodles, soft drinks, and etc.

The Chief Program Officer said that although the OCP under the Ministry of Economic Affairs issued a notification asking the business entities to refrain from charging unfair and unreasonable prices on goods and services, some businesses were failing to comply.

“The OCP continuously monitors and inspects business entities in collaboration with the Regional Office of Economic Affairs to mainly educate and promote compliance by the businesses,” he said.

He also shared that businesses are educated on their duties and responsibilities towards the consumers, and their responsibilities to engage in fair trade practices through various means and platforms, such as visiting the business premises, dissemination of information through mainstream media, social media, and official webpage, and workshops and seminars.

“Though there are complaints about high prices, prices depend on the market forces and are not fixed by the government. However, for certain commodities such as PoL products for which the rates are fixed by the government or prices of fruits and vegetables during lockdowns, the OCP ensures that these prices are complied with,” he added. 

Meanwhile, around 87% of the complaints have been resolved and 13% of redressal are still ongoing.

According to the OCP, in April alone it registered seven miscellaneous unethical trade practices and misrepresentation among others, four service T&C commitment failures, and three price manipulation.

A total of 139 businesses entitled in Thimphu-Throm are inspected and action taken. However, 46 of them were imposed fines and 59 of them were registered as rectification of unfair trade practices.

According to the OCP, it is constantly monitoring the market prices and around 93 essential commodities for April of 13 dzongkhags were published. 

“These are prices collected from several major retailers in the locality. The OCP shall continue to collect and publish market prices of all the dzongkhags every month for the benefit of the general consumers and businesses,” states the OCP.  

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu