Mar 16, Colombo: As Sri Lanka's national consumer rights and protection embraced the digital era for the first time, the country also announced that its consumer protection umbrella is expanding next to a brand new territory - its huge services sector.
"Today I extend my best wishes to Consumer Affairs Authority and its new consumer digital initiative," Sri Lankan President Maithripala said Wednesday speaking at the launch of World Consumer Rights Day 2017 by the Consumer Affairs Authority under Minister of Industry and Commerce.
President Sirisena said all institutions that trade in consumer goods including food should act with an understanding of their human responsibilities rather than merely depending on the government regulations and laws to govern them.
"When we talk of Sri Lanka's food items and other goods on sale, it is questionable of the producers' and suppliers' duties and responsibilities towards the consumers," he said.
"The standard of the consumer goods is the main measuring scale of the development of a country. Food standards determine the health standard of people of a country. The quality and standards of food and beverages consumed by citizens of a country is a key determinant in its development," he noted.
"We know of the situation prevailing in Sri Lanka's domestic market. Even today the kitchens of some restaurants island wide including Colombo do not have the required quality standards and cleanliness," he pointed out.
The President said the heads of supplying companies themselves have a humanitarian responsibility to ensure the quality of these products rather than through orders of the state to regulate these suppliers.
He said the limited number of CAA inspectors are not sufficient to monitor the entire market situation in the country and therefore, the producers, consumers and sellers who are joining the new digital technology and revolution today needs to take such factors in to their consideration. He urged all Sri Lankans to fulfil their market related responsibilities personally as well as institutionally.
The President launched the program to encourage the consumers to work closely with the Consumer Affairs Authority.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing the event, said the bulk of pending court cases by CAA against errant traders have been cleared in the last one and a half years since the Minister has taken over the CAA.
"Recognizing that not only products, but service sector too is a major force in our consumers, we are planning to expand our consumer protection and raids to Sri Lanka's service sector next, " the Minister said.
According to Minister Bathiudeen, the CAA has carried out 21,873 raids in 2016 supporting Sri Lanka's consumer rights and collected Rs 91 million in fines in 2016, increasing from Rs 67 million fines collected in 2015. This year CAA further increased its raids on errant consumers. In January and February 2017, 4,143 CAA raids were made, up by 18 percent in comparison to last year's January and February raids at 3,497.
The visiting keynote speaker for the event, Regional Project Officer of Consumers International Satya Sharma said the First citizen of Sri Lanka joining the event shows the importance given by Sri Lankan government to consumer rights.
"In fact, I just received news from our headquarters that Sri Lanka is identified as one of the leading countries celebrating consumer protection advocacy in Asian continent today. Issues of e-commerce in Sri Lanka needs to be correlated with global systems and this effort shows the country is on track," Sharma said.
"With the launch of our digital platform, we are entering a new era today" said Chairman of Consumer Affairs Authority Hasitha Thilakeratne and added: "As the leading state organization in Consumer protection, through our raids and legal actions, we ensure consumer rights across Sri Lanka."
Ministers Rishad Bathiudeen, Harin Fernando, State Minister Champika Premadasa, Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthaka S. Muthuhetti and the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Authority Hasitha Thilakeratne also participated in this event.