CUTS IN MEDIA-December 2006
Improving Child Health
Promote effective consumer redress mechanism
Tobacco Control Drive begins
panel turf war delaying Competition Policy road map
'Proposed VAT retrogressive'
Suspended WTO talks likely to bring fresh trouble
December 28, 2006, Rajasthan Patrika
December 25, 2006, The Post
The African Union Commission should look at promoting an effective and decentralized consumer redress mechanism at regional economic community Consumer Unity And Trust Society coordinator Sajeev Nair has said.
Nair said individual countries should also make necessary amendments to the existing legislation to deal with new types of abuses and also expand the scope and coverage of the consumer Act.
“Globalisation has brought in several opportunities for the consumers and new challenges for government and consumer protection agencies, Countries should there fore make amendments to the acts to protect the consumers abuse from within and across the border” said Nair at a business meeting in South Africa (SA) last week organised by Au Commission and SA’s department of Trade and Industry “As a consumer advocacy organisation, we wish to call upon the AU Commission to take the lead in not only a comprehensive piece of model consumer protection legislation at continental level but also to promote and en effective and decentralized consumer redress mechanism at regional economic community and national level”.
Zambia has had its competition and fair trading Act amended this year awaiting approval.The amended Act now seeks to encompass numerous consumer protection issues, as will as the compensation of the affected customers.Nair also indicated that the protection of consumer rights was a necessary condition to ensure democracy in the market place.
However, he noted “consumer rights are not even defined in many countries of the world. In a democratic society if is also ensured by the state that the rights of minorities and disadvantaged people are not suppressed by the wishes of the majority.Nair said market democracy also required the stat to ensure protection of poor and disadvantaged consumers,“As per the liberal economic order of the day, the market can produce an option outcome when there is ‘democracy in the market’ In a democratic society it’s the people or citizens who are supreme forces.” said Nair
December 22, 2006, The Hindu
For educating children on the enforcement of Section 6 of tobacco control law.
Jaipur: A campaign on tobacco control initiatives, involving 50 schools here in the Rajasthan Capital, has been launched for educating children and youth on the enforcement of Section 6 of the country’s tobacco control law. The campaign, to be taken up by the CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research and Training (CUTS-CART) in both private and the Government schools, will be for a period of nine months.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation are partners in the campaign while the Rajasthan Department of Health is an active collaborator. The campaign comes in the wake of findings that Section 6 of the tobacco control law – the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 – is not being followed strictly.
Section 6 of the Act says that “no person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit sale of, cigarette or any other tobacco product: a) to any person who is under 18 years old, and b) In an area within a radius of one hundred yards of any educational institution.”
“The enforcement of the Act is very weak. All forms of tobacco are freely sold to children. They are used for sale of tobacco products and also used as carriers. There is a need to sensitise and educate the general public, especially those associated with the educational institutions,” said George Cheriyan, Associate Director of CUTS International. “Tobacco is the only legally available consumer product which can kill the consumer when used as directed. In addition, it is a violation of basic consumer rights – the right to safe product, the right to information, the right to compensation when injured and the right to healthy environment as per the UN guidelines,” he pointed out.
December 20, 2006, Zambia Daily Mail
December 5, 2006, Thesynergyonline
In a press release issued here today, CUTS International, a leading research and advocacy group has asked the government to adopt a proper policy and regulatory framework for the retail sector, which can ensure that competition is embedded in the sector, for the benefit of both consumers and suppliers.
"Our studies across both rich and poor countries have shown that wherever big retail or supermarket chains operate, both the consumers and producers get the short end of the stick, in the absence of proper regulation", says CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep S Mehta. CUTS works on competition and regulation issues around the world, through its multi-country projects and offices in London, Lusaka, Nairobi and Hanoi.
The moot point is that the sector is going to grow even if there are concerns about the small traders being adversely affected. However, it would not be prudent to stop growth of this sector just to protect small traders. Because this is the way things are going to move and should move in the long run. Though it is naïve to argue that the small traders will not be affected, the fear is often exaggerated.
Small traders have some advantages. Not only that they can be conveniently located, large section of our population cannot afford to visit the large stores. The large stores are good only for those who buy their household requirements on a weekly or even on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, many of our people do not have enough money to buy even for the next day!
"However, there has to be enough competition in the retail sector, not only to give a better deal to the consumers, but also, and probably more importantly, to protect the small and medium producers from the monopolistic anticompetitive practices of the giant retailers", said Mehta.
Globally, it has been found that they undercut the producers even though the consumers smile. In India, the producers are not only the big companies but also small producers and farmers.
Going slow on retail FDI can be a good strategy to promote competition in the sector in the long run. Though the sector is growing, there are not too many large players and hence immediate opening to FDI might mean that the market will be dominated by a few giants. By giving some time to the domestic retailers to grow and then opening up for FDI will ensure a more competitive market in the long run.
In the short to medium term, it must be ensured by the competition authorities that these domestic retailers do not abuse their market power, in the long run, it would better to allow the foreign retailers rather than relying on competition enforcement.
Care, however, has to be taken that these domestic retailers are not taken over by the global giants whenever we decide to open the sector for FDI. Otherwise, competition will suffer as we have seen in the soft drinks sector where we are stuck with just two players. Unfortunately, they prefer to compete in TV, newspapers or even in court rooms rather than in the actual market place.
The crux of the issue is that promoting and maintaining long run competition should be the objective of the retail sector policy.
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