Over a period of 12 days starting April 6, 2023, the core markets in Trongsa and Bumthang Dzongkhags were inspected with the support of the Regional Office of Economic Affairs (MOEA), Trongsa, Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA), and Department of Forestry and Park Services (DOFPS) office based in Bumthang.
The primary objective of the inspection was to ensure compliance by the business entities with the market regulatory requirements, which are enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act of Bhutan (CPA 2012, and Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations (CPRR) 2015, and to enhance fair trade practices in the market.
The Inspection revealed that 59.3 percent of all business entities have pre-printed cash memo/purchase receipts that are provided upon consumers’ request only.
However, from the 102 grocery shops and 2 bakeries inspected, 67.3 percent of business entities did not meet the minimum product labeling requirements. The problem of inadequate labeling was common in locally produced dairy products and re-packaged products such as dal, dried fish, zaw (roasted puff rice), dried mushroom, chana (gram), local rice, pickles, popcorn, and dry chilies.
The inspection also found that only 35.7 percent of businesses in Trongsa and Bumthang displayed prices of goods and/or services provided. Of the 9 automobile workshops, 5 were found to be selling spare parts without a valid business license.
35.9 percent of all businesses were using calibrated weighing balances and measuring devices. There was 100 percent compliance by meat shops and hardware shops, while compliance by groceries was very low at 22.2 percent.
Stocking and sale of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) past their expiration dates were common, with noodles, biscuits, soft drinks, and chips which were found in 13 groceries and 3 restaurants in Trongsa and in 22 groceries and 8 restaurants in Bumthang.
The Inspection also revealed that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders stocked in all the outlets were not stored in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on safe handling and storage of LPG 2022 regulation. Both the empty and filled LPG were stored in depot without segregation at outlets at Trongsa and Bumthang, while in Dangdung LPG depot, all cylinders, filled or empty, were kept in open space.
Furthermore, the depot had not installed a weighing device to weigh the cylinders. The team found 84 expired LPG cylinders in Dangdung LPG Depot.
From a total of 7 sawmills in Trongsa and Bumthang, 5 were in adherence to the Natural Resource Pricing Committee (NRPC) rate while 2 were selling beyond the NRPC rate. Further, the measuring tape used was not calibrated by Bhutan Standard Bureau (BSB) in all sawmills. Most of these sawmills were burning sawdust and off-cuts openly, and none of the sawmills had proper firefighting equipment installed.
The BSB will be asked to calibrate weighing devices of all those businesses using invalid devices. Regional Office of Economic Affairs (ROEA), Trongsa, will be asked to take appropriate action against businesses operating without a valid business license.
All expired products were confiscated in coordination with BFDA, and fines were imposed to the tune of Nu.13,076 on the 16 violators in Trongsa Dzongkhag, and Nu.16,941 on 28 violators in Bumthang Dzongkhags.
A thorough Investigation of the non-compliant saw- mills will be conducted by Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) jointly with the DOFPS for appropriate action. The ROEA, Trongsa, will be directed to take administrative actions against LPG Depot, Dangdung for failure to comply with the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG, 2022.