Dzongkhag writes to OCP to investigate

Neten Dorji | Trashigang 

With discrepancies in the leveled weight and the actual weight of rice sold in Trashigang, the dzongkhag administration has written a letter to the Office of the Consumer Protection (OCP), Thimphu, for necessary action.

The dzongkhag wrote the letter after a team led by the Regional Trade Director in Mongar, conducted a detailed inspection. The letter requests the OCP to take necessary action to stop the supply of underweight rice bags from the source as rice is one of the main essential food items imported in the country.

Imported rice comes in four types of bags – 50kg, 40kg, 25kg and 22kg.

 Team leader, Tshering Wangdi said they found discrepancies in the actual weight of rice bags that is inscribed differently for different brands of rice. “ Rice bags with 50kg level weigh only 40kg and 25kg bag weigh only 22kg.”

Tshering Wangdi said customers were confused when they compared the actual cost of 50kg rice bags in FCB outlets and the cost of underweight with wholesalers.

Members said most of the customers were confused because of the weight specified on bags of rice and the labelled price.  “Customer thought the price of 50kg which was underweight was cheaper than the actual price of 50 kg. Shopkeeper charged only underweight of rice the price of its 40kg bag and 22kg bag,” said a member, Nina S Tamang. “Customers didn’t realise there is a difference in the weight of rice and its cost.”

A Dzongkhag Marketing Surveillance and Monitoring team (MSMT)conducted the inspections.  The team conducted a detailed inspection of wholesales and FCB across Trashigang dzongkhag on the directives  of the Dzongdag Chekey Gyeltshen.

One of the members said that without in-depth studies on discrepancies in price, they could not say what was happening between suppliers and buyers. “It is important to create awareness among customers and check before buying anything from shops,” he said.  “It is the customers right, if shopkeepers deceived customers.”

A proprietor of a wholesaler in Trashigang said he did not noticed the difference or benefited from the difference in weight.   “We import as per the level of the rice bag and sell it as per the level of weight,” he said. “Only thing is that, rice bag marks as 50kg which weighs only 40kg.”

During the inspection, the dzongkhag MSMT team has asked all retailers and wholesalers across the dzongkhag to correct the underweight rice bag and warned them from importing such underweight rice.

A Kuensel independent verification found that rice bags  labelled as 50kg weighs only 40.35kg and 25kg bags weighs only 22.70kg.

Meanwhile, the team also found that shopkeepers didn’t have a standard weighing balance or equipment and those who have are not functional.

“The OCP should direct all shopkeepers to purchase standard weighing balance in line with Bhutan Standard Bureaus protocol,” the letter signed by the dzongdag states.