Sri Lanka to strengthen consumer protection laws

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has began work to upgrade its consumer protection regime in line with United Nations guidelines, reforms aimed at keeping up with changing trends like online shopping and cross border consumption, the Industry and Commerce Ministry said.

The island will adopt the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection (UNGCP) with reforms done under a partnership between the Colombo office of the UN Industrial Development Organisation and the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) under the ministry, a statement said.

Existing laws are being evaluated under the Sri Lanka Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) Deliberations in an exercise involving representatives from 30 Sri Lankan regulatory agencies.

“This is the first time that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the CAA and even Sri Lanka itself is undertaking such an in-depth review of safeguards of consumption of products, services and compliance at national level,” the statement said.

The exercise is a stepping stone towards harmonization of local laws with dynamic global standards sourced from UNGCP to design national consumer wellbeing policy respected by 100 countries, it said.

Sri Lanka’s consumer protection framework at present is largely dependent on legislations such as the Consumer Affairs Authority Act which need revising.

“While these Acts introduced the much needed basic consumer safeguard framework to Sri Lanka they do not appear to be satisfactory anymore in the face of huge changes,” the ministry said.

These include online purchases, new cross border consumption patterns including consumption of content such as data, and new consumer activism that looks for remedies on latest merchandise that was previously unheard of or unknown such as streaming or stored online digital content.

“Sometimes regulations are outdated, weak or non-existent and periodically they need to be examined to correct them and their quality,” said UN Resident Coordinator McCauley.

“Regulations have to be coherent if Sri Lanka is to achieve sustainable development. Systematic, participatory and evidence based transparent approaches are required for regulatory authorities to make informed decisions.”
(COLOMBO, January 09, 2018)





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