By Ali Al Matani -
Consumer protection is a matter that is gaining in importance for the government. This is visible by the frequent attention given by the cabinet to discuss concepts, plans and steps that can be taken by the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) for the next stage, particularly, Consumer Protection Law, in accordance with the requirements in this regard.
There is no doubt that the government’s inclination to take positive steps on consumer protection is matter of delight for citizens at all levels. By contributing to the establishment of systems with new concepts that enrich give-and-take with consumers in a legal form and pave the way for spreading consumer protection, apart from changing a lot of incorrect practices that is coming in the way of trade openness and competition, the government is indeed paving the way for a good system.
All these reactions are due to the price manipulation being done under many false names, that is affecting the consumer deeply. The government’s attention to consumers woes stems from the fact that there are several perspectives that have to be looked into, the most important of which is that of providing a decent life for citizens and expatriates, which is one of the developmental aims which the government is keen to achieve.
Another factor that has not gone down well with the consumers is that of the government not being able to protect the consumers enough as far as the increase in salary is concerned. This is because after the increase in salary soon after there were increases in prices of goods also. This has resulted in making the salary increase redundant. This, in turn, has led to the developing convictions among people that salary increases have had no benefit at all.
Other aspect of the government's attention to consumer protection is represented in the form of putting an end to the chaos in markets caused by traders who operate with no legal framework or controls. The aim is to put these markets on the track to operate according to specific controls.
These controls will protect the people from exploitation practiced by some categories of traders who function without any work ethics and do not follow the accepted mechanisms of free markets and free trade requirements.
The Government attention is also focused on making available for the PACP the required checks and controls that it needs to play its proper role. The PACP aims to create about 400 job opportunities in their branches all over the Sultanate and provide themselves with facilities like advanced equipment.
All actions signal the institution of concrete steps in this regard that will contribute to finding the required solutions to address the balance of dealings with consumers and weeding out the non-commercial practices to serve the interests of all, with no exceptions.
Of course, these actions by the government should not be mistaken as going against the trade requirements or hindering the concepts of free trade and markets, rather these government moves are aimed at creating awareness at all sections of consumers rights; highlighting the fact that there are authorities protecting consumers from negative practices by some of the traders. Therefore, there is a need to create a balance and harmony by not ignoring the irregularities in the markets. Besides, establishing the PACP is a very natural move that aims to prepare for the next stage of tackling the excesses that have to be fine tuned.
We hope that everybody understands that these steps are not directed to any one section in particular. These actions are aimed at protecting consumers and establishing a conviction that they are part of the rights and duties of everyone to adhere to.