|Fried lizard allegedly found in branded chips packet|
| Saturday, August 09, 2008|
By Shahid Husain
KARACHI: The Consumer Association of Pakistan (CAP) has received a complaint from Ashfaq Agha, a senior official, who says he was shocked to find a fried lizard in a pack of imported chips, but was lucky he did not consume it.
In a letter sent to Kaukab Iqbal, Chairman CAP, on July 26, a copy of which is available with The News, Agha said he purchased two packets of chips on June 18 from a well-known super market at Clifton marked with a famous American brand claiming the pack contained “naturally baked Tortilla chips, hygienically fit, export quality and made in USA” and found a “small fried lizard” in one of the packs.
“As a consumer I would like to lodge my complaint against the seller, importer and manufacturer of the product. Therefore, as chairman of the Consumer Association of Pakistan, I would request (you) to help me in this regard as a social and public responsibility to protect my rights and take necessary action against the concerned management on an appropriate forum,” Agha said in his letter.
Talking to The News, Iqbal said he was sending a notice to the super store and would also lodge a complaint with the US Consulate in Karachi. But there are slim chances that Ashfaq Agha would be able to get any relief because the Sindh government has not been able to establish consumer courts as yet, despite the fact that the Consumer Act was drafted as early as 1994 and consumer courts are already successfully functioning in Punjab.
“It was during the Benazir Bhutto government in 1994 that I and my dear friend (late) P K Shahani drafted the Consumer Act. It was enforced in Islamabad and its copies were sent to all the provinces,” Iqbal Haider, a former law minister and general secretary, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said. The Sindh Governor, Dr Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, promulgated the “Consumers Protection Ordinance 2007” on February 15, 2007 which was to come into force “at once”.
The ordinance that needed to be ratified by the Sindh Assembly within 90 days lapsed and nobody could say with certainty when it would become a law, enabling consumer courts to function as they are functioning in Punjab. The ordinance stated that every person, businessman, trader, manufacturer, supplier, as the case may be, shall comply with market standards in respect to any particular goods or service, if any. They should also ensure that the composition, contents, methods of manufacture, processing, design, construction, finishing, packaging, storage, handling of goods are safe or are not likely to be a source to cause harm or injury to any person. And ensure that the instructions for such safe use, handling, packaging, storage and consumption are clearly displayed so as to bring to the notice of any consumer or prospective consumer.”
The federal capital was the first to have a specific law for the protection of consumers, although there are four different consumer protection laws in Pakistan. These laws include the Islamabad Consumer Protection Act, 1995, the NWFP Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2005, the Balochistan Consumer Protection Act, 2003 and the Punjab Consumer Protection Act, 2005.
In Sindh, the Sindh Consumer Protection Ordinance was first promulgated by the governor of the province on August 12, 2004, but it lapsed, as it could not be presented to the Sindh Assembly for ratification. Failure to ratify the ordinance and establish consumer courts has left no option to the consumers but to bear the brunt of piracy, adulteration, cheating and monetary losses.
The market is flooded with sub-standard material, spurious drugs, expired foodstuff and other such items.
“International oil prices have come down, but the finance minister says we can’t give benefit to the consumers,” Iqbal said. “In the UAE, food items are withdrawn 15 days ahead of their expiry date and unscrupulous elements in Pakistan import them in bulk, which are then sold to innocent and unaware consumers with new expiry dates,” he said.
“The situation in the interior of Sindh is so grave that patients are regularly given spurious and expired medicines,” he added. He said CAP has sought an appointment with the Sindh Governor, Dr Ishrat Ul Ibad Khan and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah so that the ordinance for consumer protection may be issued yet again to pave the way for consumer courts.
“It is amazing that commercial banks are charging cash handling charges. It’s as if a lawyer charges for touching the law book or a doctor charges for touching the stethoscope,” said an irritated Iqbal Haider, adding “There is no trial, no prosecution of the criminal elements who are violating building bylaws and indulging in horrendous crimes such as adulteration.”
It is time, say many, that the government should not look away and work to give customers, who pay indirect tax to the government, a right to their protection too.
All that I can say is this.........IT'S FUBAR (fkkd up beyond all recognition). Makes me think twice about consuming chips from the USA. lol
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Nov 6, 2008
Have a chips addiction but just couldn't quit?
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