Bangladesh is a small country with a huge population. Perhaps it is the country with largest consumer comparing its small area. Though in many sectors Bangladesh improves but it is matter of sorrow that after 40 year of independence consumer rights are yet been introduced in a significant manner in Bangladesh. Though there is lot of organization working for human rights in Bangladesh but no organization except Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) working for consumer rights. But consumer rights are integral parts of human rights.
As a student of business we know that consumer is treated as king to marketer. In developed country we see that consumer is very much honored. But in Bangladesh we see that consumer is treated negligently. Consumer rights are abused almost every sector in Bangladesh. I am writing some common scenario about how the consumer rights are violated in our country. Now it is a common thing is that food like fruits, vegetable, fish, meat, snacks all are adulterated. Formalin and such type of chemical are used in fish. Carbide is used to ripe fruits. Vegetable are mixed with insects and pesticide and so on.
Furthermore the greedy businessmen abuse the consumers by cheating in weighing & measures, hoarding and artificial price-hike. Though there is a government organization to test the standard of food and other products named Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI) but it is beset with numerous problems. It is not well equipped with modern facilities for testing products and commodities. For example, when it were needed to examine the imported powder milk for testing melamine in some years back, govt. has to send the sample to foreign country for testing.
The efficiency and integrity of the officials of BSTI are often questioned by the general consumers. In case of different service sector the situation of consumer rights is worse. In education sector especially in higher education both in public and private sector consumer (in another word student) are suffering. In public sector almost in every university, student need more time to get their degree due to session jam than the normal time. On the other hand in private sector the cost of education is much greater comparing its education quality.
In the health sector the situation is more dangerous. Most often it is seen that physicians give unnecessary diagnostic test to the patient at the same time the doctor refer a definite diagnostic center and in return the doctor get commission from these diagnostic center. Actually today in many cases the doctors are deviated from their helping tendency and do not have minimum ethics in their professional practices. Incidence of death due to wrong treatment or intakes of adulterated and counterfeit drugs are often published in the newspapers. Surprisingly the drug administration is silent.
Recently in Bangladesh, a pharmaceutical company produced a paracetamol base syrup where just to make a 5 Tk more profit they use a injurious chemical and by taking this syrup about 21 child were died. In transportation service the condition are same. Transport Company charges illogical fare to the innocent consumer. At the same time the quality of their service is not satisfactory. Almost everyday we see in newspaper that many people are died in road accident. Actually in every sector the condition are same. And it is also true that the consumer knows how they are cheating but they have nothing to do.
In developed country consumer are very much aware about their rights. In the developed countries there are adequate laws to protect the consumers against violation of their rights and interests. There are separate consumer courts in those countries to deal with cases of violation of consumers’ rights and interests. For instance physicians have to compensate the patients for medical negligence and wrong treatment, trades and businessmen have to redress the grievances of the consumers by replacing or refunding money to the buyers for defective goods and commodities.
But most of the consumers in our country are not aware about their basic rights and obligations as consumers. One reason behind this unawareness may bee illiteracy but the literate people also unknown about consumer rights. Due to absence of appropriate and adequate protective laws, standards and effective implementation of existing laws regarding consumer rights, lack of involvement of civil society in increasing awareness, absence of a strong platform of consumer etc, establishment of consumer rights in Bangladesh is difficult.
Furthermore, although, there are some conventional laws in existence in the country, but these laws are so outdated that little or no protection is provided to the consumers. These laws are also inadequate and do not meet the present needs. The most prominent amongst these laws are: 1. Bangladesh Food Ordinance, 1959 2. Bangladesh Pure Food Rules, 1967 3. Bangladesh Essential commodity Act, 1978 4. Bangladesh Drug Control Ordinance, 1982 5. Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute Ordinance 1984 6. The Breast Milk Substitute (Regulation of Marketing ) Ordinance, 1984
Among rules and ordinances the most interesting features of these laws are that aggrieved consumers can not sue the violators themselves. It is only the designated government officials empowered under these laws, who can initiate and sue the violators. Besides, provision of penalty or punishment is so negligible that nobody cares to abide by the rules under these laws and as such there is no effective implementation of the laws. But there is a good news for us that former caretaker government Approves Consumer Rights Protection Ordinance 2007 .
Which provides some effective punishment of different terms, with maximum imprisonment of three years and maximum fine of Tk. 300,000 or both, for the transgressors. Discussing the above situation it is clear to us that we need to establish consumer rights in Bangladesh. To establish consumer rights effectively in Bangladesh I think the following steps can plays an important role- 1. Govt. should establish a separate consumer courts in order to deal with cases of violation of consumers’ rights and interests.
2. Govt. eed to empowered the consumer so that that the aggrieved consumers can individually sue against the violators. 3. Civil society should come forward to create awareness about the rights of consumer. 4. The teachers and students of marketing department of various universities can play a vital role to increase the awareness of the consumer, civil society and government 5. At the same time Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) should increase its power and similar types of organization should form to speak for the consumer rights.