Muscat: A wider crackdown on the violators of consumer laws is on the anvil in the Sultanate as the new consumer protection law would include heftier penalties, in the light of growing commercial fraud and irregularities.
The new law will also contribute towards ensuring the stability of the local market and safeguarding the rights of the consumers and merchants alike, Dr Said bin Khamis Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), told Times of Oman.
Economic experts believe that the new law would help in curbing commercial frauds and checking monopoly as well as protecting consumer rights.
The maximum penalty under the current consumer protection law is OMR5,000, Al Kaabi said.
The PACP chairman added that the long-awaited new Consumer Protection Act is still at the Majlis Al Shura for review and study. It would be referred to the ministers' council for ratification and approval, he added.
Al Kaabi said the board members of the PACP made some amendments to the consumer protection law in August, 2011 keeping in view the latest developments in consumer protection practices across the world.
"The amendments to the Consumer Protection Act are aimed at rectifying the weaknesses by taking advantage of the global and regional experiences in this area as similar laws exist elsewhere too. In the light of such experiences, the provisions were sought to be amended to make these more stringent and address all kinds of malpractices," said Al Kaabi.
A member of the Majlis Al Shura confirmed that the new law would be forwarded to the ministers' council within one month after it is reviewed and voted on.
Al Kaabi had recently stated that all government units had contributed to the new Consumer Protection Act.
Meanwhile, the PACP said it had successfully addressed 29,246 complaints and confiscated more than 2.5 million items that violated consumer protection laws in all the governorates of the Sultanate last year.
The total number of complaints and registered violations in all the directorates of PACP reached 37,408, out of which 16,803 were received at the headquarters in Muscat, while 14,596 complaints were received by other branches.
The Annual Index Survey 2013, prepared by the General Directorate of Information and Studies of Market at the PACP, listed 6,009 violations and 2.6 million confiscated items throughout Oman.
The number of penalties imposed by the PACP reached 1,320 while the total amount of fines collected was OMR456,760.
The report also showed that 248 training and preparation courses were conducted by the authority last year.
The report noted that consumers lodged 16,803 complaints, with the highest number of complaints in the Muscat governorate (9,098), followed by North Al Batinah (1,647), Dhofar (1,120), Al Dakhiliyah (1,058), Al Dhahirah (788), South Sharqiyah (778), Al Buraimi (670), South Batinah (992), North Sharqiyah (492) and Musandam (133).
The report revealed that the highest number of complaints received was about foodstuff, followed by those related to car tyres and spare parts, watches, jewellery, clothes, phones, electronic devices, and building materials.
Al Kaabi earlier told the Times of Oman that the authority has the data of prices of commodities pertaining to the past period, and any increase without the approval of the PACP would be considered a blatant violation.