…𝑻𝒘𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒚-𝒕𝒘𝒐 𝒃𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒗𝒊𝒐𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒚𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒅𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒍𝒚 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒅 𝑵𝒖. 22,990/-, 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒅𝒖𝒄𝒕𝒔 𝒔𝒆𝒊𝒛𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝑩𝑭𝑫𝑨
By Phurpa Wangmo
In a concerted effort spanning ten days from November 15, 2023, the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA), in collaboration with the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA) and the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB), meticulously scrutinized major markets within the region of Wangduephodrang. The primary objective of this extensive operation was to assess businesses’ adherence to the provisions outlined in the Consumer Protection Act, 2012, and the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations, 2015.
A total of 108 diverse businesses across Baychu, Langla Tshawa, Bajo, Nobding, Khelekha, Tekizampa, Ngawang, and Phobjikha underwent thorough inspection during this comprehensive surveillance.
The findings disclosed that 64.8 percent of businesses complied with issuing printed cash memos or purchase receipts upon consumer demand. However, a concerning 11.6 percent of groceries failed to meet the minimum product labeling requirements. This issue was notably prevalent among locally produced dairy products and re-packaged items such as dal, dried fish, rice, zaw, dried chili, dried mushroom, chana, and homemade pickles.
Approximately 57.4 percent of businesses demonstrated transparency by prominently displaying the prices of their goods and/or services. Alarming instances of expired goods, including biscuits, Tetra packed milk, noodles, canned fish, chips, and sweets, were discovered in 22 businesses.
In terms of fuel dispensing, all nine operational fuel nozzles across four Petroleum Retail Outlets (PROs) adhered to the permissible range of 0.5% (±0.5% = 25ml), as defined by Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB). The density of Motor Spirit (MS) and High-Speed Diesel (HSD) at all four PROs fell within acceptable limits (±3 kg/m3), and storage tank water content remained within the maximum acceptable range (8 cm).
However, certain equipment used in the measurement and calibration processes exhibited deficiencies. Measuring jars at BOD, Bajo, and Langlay Tshawa were identified as requiring recalibration. Additionally, hydrometers, thermometers, and measuring cylinders used for fuel density checks in the PROs were found to be lacking calibration. A malfunctioning thermometer at DPDPL, Baychu, and the absence of a consumer safety board at the DPDPL near Wangdue Bridge raised concerns.
Further violations included expired fire extinguishers at all PROs, contradicting the Guidelines on the Storage, Handling, and Dispensing at Petroleum Retail Outlets. The weighing balance for LPG cylinders at BOD, Bajo, faced technical issues and was non-functional.
To address these issues, 41 weighing balances in 37 businesses, including grocery stores, meat shops, hardware shops, and PROs, were checked and calibrated. Twenty-two businesses found in violation of selling goods beyond expiration dates were collectively fined Nu. 22,990/-, with expired products seized by BFDA.
As part of enforcement measures, all PROs were instructed to refill expired fire extinguishers within a week and maintain daily density records of MS and HSD immediately. Additionally, BOD, Bajo, and BOD, Langlay Tshawa were directed to calibrate the 5L measuring can within a week. DPDPL at Baychu was ordered to replace the non-functional thermometer promptly.
The CCAA emphasized its commitment to upholding consumer protection standards, promising continued vigilance to ensure businesses comply with regulations for the well-being of consumers.