Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said a new consumer protection law was on the anvil to crack down on misleading advertisements and ensure that grievances are redressed in a time-bound and cost effective manner.
The government had enacted a GST law, which would benefit consumers in the long run as prices would come down because of competition among manufacturers, he said.
“Today we are in the process of enacting a new Consumer Protection Act keeping in view business practices and requirements of the country. The proposed Act lays great emphasis on consumer empowerment,” he said. “Stringent provisions are proposed against misleading advertisements. A Central Consumer Protection Authority with executive powers will be constituted for quick remedial action.”
The government is coming out with new law, replacing the Consumer Protection Act 1986, which will incorporate the revised 2015 United Nations guidelines on consumer protection.
“Protection of consumer interests is a priority of the government. This is also reflected in our resolution of the New India. Moving beyond Consumer Protection, New India will have best consumer practices and consumer prosperity,” Mr. Modi said.
The government in the last three years had launched many programmes such as the real estate law, new BIS Act, UJJWALA scheme and DBT (direct benefit transfer) that would not only empower consumers but result in huge savings, he pointed out.
Consumer protection was among the government’s key priorities, he said, noting that it recently brought out Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is bringing in a new business culture across the country.
“In the long term, GST will benefit only consumers. They will not be cheated as they become more aware of this law.” Consumers could now see on receipts the tax they are paying to the Centre and the States. GST would encourage competition among companies that would result in fall in prices of goods, benefiting the poor and middle-class consumers.
The time reduction in transportation of goods would also lead to fall in prices and this benefit would also be transferred to consumers. “Due to GST, various indirect and hidden taxes have ceased to exist. The biggest beneficiaries of GST will be the consumers, the middle class,” he said.
Inflation had been brought down significantly in the last three years and this had helped in consumer saving.
The government had enacted a new Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) to protect homebuyers’ interest. The legislation would protect buyers from builders’ monopoly.
Modi said a buyer could book flat with 10 per cent booking amount from the earlier up to 40 per cent. The developer would not be able to divert fund, as 70 per cent of the money had to be kept in an escrow account.
Effective grievance redressal systems were vital for a democracy and, therefore, the government was integrating technology to ensure stronger grievance redressal mechanisms.
The scope of consumer protection was very broad in the vision of the government. “Development of any country and consumer protection are complementary. Good governance has an important role in taking the benefits of development to every citizen,” he said.