OUTLOOK — By Ali Al Matani — Everyone follows the judicial decisions and court rulings that are in favour of the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) with more surprise; amazement and anticipation because it is the first time in the Sultanate to have such rulings and decisions relating to aspects that aim to protecting consumer and combating fraud and cheating in goods, products and services. This attitude has had a very profound effect on the market. In fact, it had an extraordinary impact on wrong practices that have been impairing consumers in the Sultanate. Now, just signalling to resort to PACP, in any dispute between consumers on the one hand and sellers and traders on the other hand, raises unusual worry and concern in the hearts of traders and sellers.
These developments have contributed to the correction of many wrong practices in the field of commercial give and take, created self-censorship in the market, gave consumers their rights which were unavailable completely before and required the abusers to give up their negative practices.
There is no doubt that there is great satisfaction in different wilayats of the Sultanate with these developments regarding providing consumers with more protection and the efforts done by PACP to materialise its mission and vision. Most of court rulings issued in favour to PACP are resulting from violating the Consumer Protection Law; not to mention violating professional ethics that should be shown by the traders and sellers.
Islam explicitly prohibits fraud and cheating. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, warned us against fraud and cheating saying that whoever cheats people is not Muslim (not one of us). This emphasises on the importance of honest treatment.
Violations in today’s world have increased; greed is controlling the minds of people. So, deterrence is a must. The efforts done by PACP, in addition to the court rulings and judicial decisions is the way to this deterrence.
The 163 court rulings issued in favour of PACP in the first six months reflect a lot of things, including the amount of violations that have been doing harm to most of consumers. If this is the number of lawsuits on which courts have been issued rulings, what about the disputes between consumers and sellers that are settled by the PACP, before submitting them to competent courts? They are so many. What about these disputes that consumers didn’t report to PACP about? They are more and more. The sad thing is that all these disputes and lawsuits were absent before the establishment of PACP. In the past, consumers were subject to many violations; with no one lifted a finger to support them.
Of course, the court rulings have a positive impact on the market. They are signalling and delivering a clear message to everybody; this message says that there is no room for violation, fraud, cheating or price manipulation. PACP has become the subject of praise from all sections of the community.
Of course, all these wrong practices that are disgracing the markets can’t be erased overnight. No one can reduce them at one go. Errors and wrong deeds will stay as long as humans exist. But the development of awareness is vital and PACP can’t continue its way without it. Facts are facts. Consumer awareness is the base on which fighting violations is built. We are hoping that all efforts done by PACP meet success and that the authority itself doesn’t give up its great efforts to achieve its noble aims and goals.