World Consumer Day Forum – Highlights week and ineffective consumer voice and societies ..

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) has marked the world consumer day by jointly organizing a forum at the IPS Auditorium on 15 March.

The world consumer day was declared on 15 March 1963, with the address given By President John F Kennedy to the US Congress raising global awareness about consumer rights. The theme of this year world consumer day was “our Money our rights”. The Consumer International has chosen this theme in view Of the serious adverse impact befallen on ordinary consumers on the Aftermath of 2008 financial crises due to subprime debt issue and the Current financial crises emanating from western financial institutions due To sovereign debt issue. This year theme is eminently applicable to Sri Lankan situation due to unpleasant experience Sri Lankan financial services Consumer had in the year 2008.

The keynote address was delivered by Ambassador Sarath Wijesinghe who was The former Chairman of Consumer Affairs Authority of
Sri Lanka. The keynote Speaker drew the attention of variety of regulatory organizations operating In the country to safeguard and protect mainly the interest of the consumer Such as Public Utilities Commission (Electricity), Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, Financial ombudsman, Insurance ombudsman, and Legislative enactments such as trade mark ordinance, IP Act, Drugs Ordinance, Food and Drug Act, Cosmetic Devise Act, Sri Lanka Standard Act and Consumer Affairs Authority. However, unfortunately the consumer activism and the organizations in Sri Lanka do not demonstrate required level of Engagements to protect promote and safeguard the consumer interest in Respect of goods and services available in the country.

According to IPS research study conducted with the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), around US$ two billion savings can be made in benefiting the Consumer in consumer spending if the trade between the south Asian countries is conducted through meaningful regional trading arrangements.

The forum also noted that the consumer societies in Sri Lanka are not active As desired due to variety of reasons. One reason is that though the Establishment and forming of society is relatively an easy task, sustainability of such society is the main problem. Sri Lankan consumer does not receive direct an immediate material benefit in joining such societies. On the other hand the Regulatory Authorities should be more responsible inproviding redress to consumer voice which would certainly enhance the credibility of the regulatory authority among the consumers.  Mr. Kumar Mallimaratchi, President of FCCISL and Dr. Saman Kalegama, Executive Director IPS delivered the introductory remarks and the welcome Remarks respectively at the forum. Representatives of number of regulatory
Authorities also participated in the forum.