Press Release - 6th National Conference on 'Putting The Consumer First'.

Supplement Banner copy"The consumer has the right to refuse a substandard product in Pakistan." This was stated by Speaker Provincial Assembly Sindh, Nisar Khuhro, at the 6th National Conference on "Putting the Consumer First", organized by Helpline Trust at Avari Hotel on Thursday, to commemorate World Consumers Rights Day.

Mr. Khuhro, who was the Chief guest of the occasion, agreed, amidst a loud applause, to adapt The consumer Protection Ordinance, which the province of Sindh still doesn’t not have, as soon as possible.

“There is no doubt that we need the ordinance and I am here to assure you that I will take it seriously now", he assured the organizer and the audience.

In his welcome address, Hamid Maker, Chairman Helpline Trust quoted former US President John F Kennedy who had said that “consumers by definition include all of us. They are the largest economic group in the economy, affecting almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group whose views are often not heard". Maker said that, "the four basics consumer rights: the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard have their origins in Kennedy’s declaration. He said that to these rights, the consumer movement has added four more rights: the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to redress, the right to education, the right to a healthy environment".

He informed the audience that in Pakistan, consumer laws are a provincial matter and there are only three consumer protection ordinances in Islamabad, Baluchistan and Punjab. Sind is still without a consumer protection law and consumer courts.

"In a society where awareness of consumer interests is still in its infancy, there is a need for regulation on part of the government and activism on the part of civil society to ensure protection of consumer rights", he noted.

Justice (Retd) Saiduzzaman Siddiqui who chaired the first session of the conference, said that "in Pakistan a consumer is a king but without a crown" implying that they have no rights. “Since 1986 we are still awaiting the birth of the institution competent to provide relief to the consumer”, he said.

Mr. Shahzad Ansar, a member of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), regretted that “consumer fronts are very weak in Pakistan", adding that some leading soft drink brands, which are freely available in Pakistan, are banned in some European countries for their carcinogenic content. Why can’t we follow the suit? Are our children immune to these chemicals, he asked adding “but this won’t happen in Pakistan for next twenty years due to the interests of certain people whose names I won’t divulge."

Pir Bakhsh Jamali, Director General, PSQCA, in his speech titled, ' The Role of PSQCA in protecting Consumers’, highlighted the achievements of the organization to ensure quality consumer products to people within the limited resources available to the organization. “We have started an awareness programme", he assured. "We are going for litigation against several beverages, including different colas and fruit juices", he informed. 

Advocate, Ali Kabir Shah, of Ali Associates, charmed the audience with his brilliant presentation on the long term impact of Intellectual property Rights. "In Pakistan we do not give importance to intellectual property rights, because we don’t realize that it’s not the big corporations but the consumers that suffers due to its violation.  He said that the art, music, movies and education industry suffers the most. Instead of supporting the counterfeited goods, local companies can step in to buy the rights to reproduce books, software and other goods at affordable prices.

"There are laws for copy rights violations but they are hardly implemented", he said adding that "the role of judiciary is imperative. It’s high time; they stepped in to protect consumers in Pakistan." He showed many pictures where small consumer goods like face creams, chewing gums and other consumer products were manufactured in unhygienic conditions.

Former senator and human rights advocate, Iqbal Haider said that "Anarchy is not limited to terrorism, but if we have adulterated food and drugs and consumers are exploited than that is also terrorism and anarchy". He said from banks, mobile phones to lotteries, consumers in Pakistan are robbed off their hard cash and rights. He said that “however my greatest fear is for the occupiers of high rises in karachi.98 percent of the buildings are illegally constructed defying the building laws", he stressed adding "if Karachi is hit by an earthquake higher than 6 on rector scale, i shriek to think what will happen to the people".

Iqbal Haider, who has the privilege to be the first minister to get the first consumer rights act of 1995 passed in the assembly, blamed the government for lack of political will in enforcing the consumer rights laws. “There are many laws, trust me, to protect consumers, but there is no will in the government to implement these laws", he said. He joked amidst loud laughter in the audience about various consumer rights exploitation in Pakistan. He said, “We are a free country. We are free to commit any crime, criminal or otherwise with impunity".

Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi, who is also a trustee of Help line Trust, agreed with former senator. She said “we do not need more laws; we need implementation of the existing laws".

She praised Helpline Trust for its continued lobbying of the laws concerning consumer rights and to create awareness about these laws. “Awareness is very important, at all levels", she contended.

M. Haroon Qassim, Managing Director PharmEvo Pakistan also spoke on the occasion. The speaker praised the efforts of Helpline Trust’s ongoing awareness campaign "JAAGO SARFEEN JAAGO".  

The participants of the conference agreed on the following declaration:

Declaration of the conference:

  • Consumer Protection Laws and Consumer Courts should be established in all the provinces of Pakistan
  • Appropriate measures should be adopted to promote product and service quality, standards and CSR.
  • Demanded the enforcement and implementation of PSQCA standards and the existing Pure Food and Drug Laws
  • End to misleading advertisements so that consumers are provided quality products at a fair price.
  • To take all possible measures to create consumer awareness against substandard, counterfeit, look alike and adulterated products.
  • To hold manufacturers accountable on public health and safety issues and monitor good manufacturing practices and CSR.
  • To lobby for the protection of consumer rights through enforcement of laws and standards.
  • Demanded transparency in standards of development and implementation.

 The conference ended with highly charged audiences asking questions from the speakers.

The chief guest presented excellence awards for higher quality in consumer protection to various companies. Those received awards were, Agro Processors & Atm. Gases, AVM Chemical Industry, Dupont Pakistan Operations, EFU Life Assurance, EBM, Getz Pharma Pakistan, Nestle Pakistan, Pharmevo Pakistan and TCS Private Limited.

Certificate of appreciation were distributed amongst the speakers.

Helpline Trust – “We Care”