Staff Reporter

The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has penalised a shopkeeper for selling substandard hand sanitisers on inflated prices and vegetable vendors for overcharging customers on green chillies, according to a press release from the OCP.

The OCP in collaboration with the Drug Regulatory Authority investigation revealed that the hand sanitiser does not meet the minimum acceptable level standard set by the World Health Organisation.

A man who works in a pharmaceutical shop in Thimphu had imported the product from an unreliable source and supplied it to pharmacy shops in Thimphu at unreasonable prices by manipulating documents.

“There was sufficient evidence in a product labelling that an average person could reasonably foresee and infer that the product is not fit for the particular purpose. As a certified competent person he failed to exercise professional diligence instead supplied the inferior product through fraudulent practices,” it stated.

The OCP directed him to recall the inferior product from the market and accept the return of the product from buyers.

The OCP imposed a fine of Nu 53,225 for charging exorbitant prices taking undue advantage of the market situation as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act of Bhutan 2012.

The OCP also found that there were other brands of hand sanitisers that did not meet the minimum acceptable level which were recalled for safety reasons.

The OCP also investigated the claims of unreasonable prices on green chillies at Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM).

The OCP found out that the vegetable suppliers, brokers and vendors were unfairly charging unreasonable prices on green chilli aggrieving consumers.

They had failed to comply with the notifications issued by the government directing business entities to avoid charging unreasonable prices taking undue advantage of current difficult situations.

The office imposed a fine of Nu 4,320 on a vegetable supplier after establishing his acts as unfair and unethical trade practices contravening Consumer Protection Act of Bhutan 2012.

The OCP also fined four other vendors Nu 4,060, Nu 12,960, Nu 1,440 and Nu 1,740 respectively for overcharging.

The OCP, according to the press release, is continuously receiving the complaints on price escalation and other unfair trade practices from various parts of the country.

To address such issues, the OCP has formed market surveillance and monitoring teams involving officials from various departments of economic affairs ministry and deputed to different areas in Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Wangdue and Punakha.

“At the regional, dzongkhag and gewog levels, we are collaborating with Regional Trade and Industry Offices, dzongkhag and gewog administrations to carry out market surveillance and monitoring to protect economic interest and safety of the consumers. The teams are constantly observing and monitoring the markets to ensure that unfair trade practices are not proliferating,” the press release stated.

The OCP has also formed teams in all dzongkhags and thromdes to collect market price information of essential commodities on a real-time basis and publish for consumers to make informed purchase decisions. “It is also to keep track of price movement in the markets and monitor price manipulation.”

The OCP requested people to dial consumer helpline toll-free number which is operated round the clock to advise consumers, facilitate lodging of complaints and address consumer issues in the market.