๐‚๐‚๐€๐€ ๐“๐š๐ค๐ž๐ฌ ๐’๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐  ๐’๐ญ๐š๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐€๐ ๐š๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ ๐•๐ข๐จ๐ฅ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐Œ๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ž๐ญ๐ฌ

โ€ฆ๐˜พ๐˜พ๐˜ผ๐˜ผ ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™ก๐™š๐™ซ๐™ž๐™š๐™™ ๐™›๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ ๐™–๐™ข๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™‰๐™ช. 33,235 ๐™ค๐™ฃ 35 ๐™—๐™ช๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™จ๐™š๐™จ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™™๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™œ๐™ช๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ

By Phurpa Wangmo

In a 15-day market surveillance operation initiated on December 4, 2023, the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) collaborated with officials from the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA) and the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) to assess compliance by businesses in Bumthang, Trongsa, and Zhemgang Dzongkhags. Covering a total of 245 business entities, the primary focus was to ensure adherence to the regulatory framework outlined in the Consumer Protection Act, 2012, and the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations, 2015.

Seventy-four percent of the surveyed business entities issue pre-printed cash memos or purchase receipts upon consumer demand. However, a concerning trend emerged among the 108 grocery shops and bakeries, where approximately 63 percent failed to meet the minimum labeling requirements. The challenge of inadequate labeling was particularly notable in locally produced and repacked retail products. Furthermore, the inspection revealed that only 49 percent of firms had displayed the selling price of the goods intended for sale. In a related issue, various food products, including biscuits, cup noodles, chips, sauces, flour, and spices, were discovered for sale past their expiration date, with 13 shops in Bumthang, 11 in Trongsa, and 11 in Zhemgang implicated in this lapse.

A total of 158 weighing balances across 143 establishments, including grocery shops, vegetable vendors, meat shops, hardware shops, and Petroleum Retail Outlets (PRO), underwent thorough verification and calibration. Of these, 19 balances were deemed unsuitable for commercial use due to technical defects. The densities of Motor Spirit (MS) and High-Speed Diesel (HSD) at all six PROs were found to be within the permissible range of ยฑ3 kg/m3. Similarly, the water content in the storage tanks across all PROs adhered to the maximum acceptable limits of 8 cm. However, issues arose in the fuel dispensing process at PRO (DPCL) Dangdung, PRO (DPCL) Tingtibi, and PRO (DPDPL) Pangbang, with the volume dispensed falling below the permissible range of 0.5% (ยฑ0.5% = 25ml). During the inspection, it was noted that the 5-L brass measuring jar was unavailable at PRO (DPDPL) Pangbang, and the Consumer Safety Board at PRO (DPDPL, Panbang) had faded and become illegible.

Concerns about safety equipment were raised, as only PRO (BOC) at Bumthang, PRO (BOC) at Trongsa, and PRO (DPCL) had installed fire extinguishers on their premises. Notably, only PRO (BOC) Trongsa had 100% valid extinguishers, while PRO (DPCL) Tingtibi, PRO (BOC) Zhemgang, and PRO (DPDPL) Pangbang were found without fire extinguisher installations. Of the 15 extinguishers at PRO (BOC) Bumthang, 11 were valid, and four had expired. Meanwhile, all three extinguishers at PRO (DPCL) Dangdung had passed their expiration date. Moreover, PRO (DPCL) Dangdung and PRO (DPDPL) Pangbang lacked weighing machines for LPG cylinders, and the weighing machine at PRO (BOC) Zhemgang was deemed unfit for commercial use, according to the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB).

In response to these findings, directives have been issued to rectify discrepancies promptly. Notably, PROs in Dangdung, Tingtibi, and Pangbang have been instructed to address various issues, including the installation of fire extinguishers and weighing machines for LPG cylinders. The CCAA emphasized that reimbursement into the RGR account would be imposed for the differential volume between the time of inspection and the date of rectification.

The scrutiny extended to a total of 245 business entities, revealing significant compliance issues. Notably, 35 entities were found in violation of regulations by selling goods beyond their expiration dates, resulting in fines totaling Nu.18,515 in Bumthang Dzongkhag, Nu. 2,105 in Trongsa, and Nu. 12,615 in Zhemgang Dzongkhag. The Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA) took swift action by seizing expired products. Additionally, 12 businesses were instructed to promptly replace their weighing devices and were directed to inform either the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) or the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) for calibration once replacements were made. For those possessing spare weighing devices, recalibration was conducted during the inspection process.

As Bhutan endeavors to strengthen consumer protection measures, ongoing cooperation between regulatory authorities and businesses is crucial to maintaining the integrity and safety of the marketplace.

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