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Main Divisions

Consumer Affairs and Information Division

Market Investigation

The Division also conducts market investigations and raids with a view to nab errant traders who violate the provisions of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act with regard to regulation of trade. These market investigations are conducted by the Head Office and the network of District offices of the Consumer Affairs Authority and the traders who are nabbed for violating the provisions are prosecuted in the respective Magistrate's Courts.

To encourage the good business practices lawful business, CAA has introduced “Model Shop” concept and has developed a set of criteria which a business should fulfill in order to become a model shop. The CAA conducts awareness programs for the traders associations, chamber of commerce, and companies on the current consumer law and “Model Shop” concept in order to promote good business practices and safeguard consumer rights.

Types of Offences
  • Removing, altering, obliterating, erasing or defacing of a label or description or price mark of any goods and producing such a good for sale.
  • Violation of directions issued to manufacturers or traders in respect of labeling, price marking, packetting relative to manufacturing, importing, marketing, stoking, sale or manufacture of selling and stocking of goods or on any other conditions.
  • Sale or offer to sell any goods above the marked price.
  • Failure to comply with the standards and specifications relating to goods and services determined by the CAA.
  • Manufacture or sale of any goods which does not conform to the warranty or guarantee given by the manufacturer or trader.
  • Contravenes any provision of any written agreement enter in to with the Authority with any manufacturers or traders of goods provide for maximum price, the standard of any goods manufactured or any condition required on the manufacture.
  • Refusing to sell goods in possession.
  • Denial of goods in possession and imposing conditions on the consumer upon purchase.
  • Keeping the goods in custody excess of normal trading requirements.
  • Increase the price of any specified good or service without the prior written approval of the Authority.
  • Fails or refuse to display the price list or price board in the place of business.
  • Not issue or refuse to issue a bill or receipt when demand by the purchaser.
  • Engaged in a conduct that is misleading or deceptive the consumer by trader or business.
  • False representation that any goods or services are of a particular standard, quality or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, or that goods and services have sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories ,users or benefits that they do not have.
  • Violation of conditions pledged in the warranty or guarantee by implication or otherwise on the supply of goods and services.
  • Prevailing anti-competitive behaviors or monopoly situations.
  • Failure to maintain records as required by the Authority or to furnish any information or to produce any documents to the Authority to discharge its duty.
Action Taken by Authority

There are enough provisions for getting actions against errant traders under the Consumer Affairs Authority Act no. 09 of 2003. Furthermore we have powers to handle Consumer Complaints sent by aggrieved Consumers. Consumer Affairs Authority has conducted several raids all over the island within last few years by our district branch officers and the head office. No of raids and complaints listed as followed.

Complaints

Month  
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
January 29 61 98 96 78 126 72 74 76 83
February 24 92 109 112 119 166 73 75 94 55
March 29 118 126 189 189 168 84 72 87 92
April 31 61 85 118 118 133 55 67 76 87
May 17 64 118 127 127 174 98 126 82  
June 38 109 116 137 137 116 91 91 73  
July 33 112 69 148 148 123 114 110 77  
August 53 121 127 129 129 123 78 99 78  
September 55 134 89 113 113 118 79 87 88  
October 55 100 108 79 79 106 107 111 84  
November 34 101 65 69 69 85 80 69 86  
December 52 98 89 72 72 82 80 80 87  
Total 450 1171 1199 1578 1378 1145 1012 1061 988 317

Raids

Month 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
January 12 200 189 186 305 119 1850 3650 1247 1709 149
February 16 253 260 217 132 242 1693 3318 1509  2018 1371
March 23 215 256 235 537 540 1852 2958 1803 2543 2351
April 45 233 487 600 517 321 1769 2660 2181 2198 2503
May 38 212 225 214 190 330 1839 2934 2160  2189  1905
June 27 211 347 203 421 528 3376 2027 2511  2158  1966
July 109 265 398 250 342 954 3523 1976 2543  2123  1716
August 214 430 319 344 451 990 3903 1203 2516  1902  1322
September 130 372 203 337 324 1015 3482 1437 2482  1701  1682
October 71 196 289 274 309 1171 3711 2224 2513  1615  1640
November 266 197 295 299 396 1785 5005 1843 1584  1679  2320
December 280 500 393 557 393 2905 4038 1516 2238  567 2920 
Total 1231 3284 3661 3716 4517 10900 36041 27746 25287  22402 21845

Fines (Rupees)

Month 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
January 0.00 863,700 2,956,700 2,680,750 2,776,000 1,626,500 8,723,500 11,707,650 6,496,350 6,558,250 2,460,500
February 0.00 1,095,700 675,500 6977,000 1,733,000 1,317,500 6,355,100 9,047,550 6,442,800  5,532,550 2,988,500
March 14,000 1,060,500 1,347,550 1,037,000 1,102,500 1,364,500 6,841,100 11,389,650 7,252,700  8,148,000 4,586,700
April 8,500 378,500 1,734,000 1,058,500 2,201,100 533,100 2,982,200 3,618,200 3,970,950  3,949,050 3,771,000
May 39,500 545,000 1,501,500 1,667,500 2,574,500 2,253,500 6,403,664 8,970,150 9,166,400  7,591,400 7,117,900 
June 38,000 1,528,500 2,083,500 952,600 1,303,000 1,109,500 7,764,400 7,964,700 7,815,900  6,894,500 8,413,400 
July 303,500 847,200 2,113,800 822,500 2,702,000 3,310,500 7,316,250 6,149,600 7,977,200  7,377,250 7,441,000 
August 616,500 1,218,750 2,149,200 1,710,000 1,455,500 2,263,000 7,559,000 6,793,500 6,110,500  5,367,750 4,782,500 
September 260,500 1,475,500 1,294,500 3,094,500 2,005,500 3,391,700 10,715,300 6,145,700 6,847,650  6,086,100 5,966,500 
October 109,000 940,600 856,500 2,018,500 1,701,900 4,706,700 9,379,650 7,738,000 8,421,950  5,362,600 7,822,500 
November 179,200 1,011,500 3,115,100 1,270,500 1,595,000 3,790,400 9,595,200 7,369,050 8,030,700  5,386,020 5,921,500 
December 353,000 349,500 570,400 683,000 1,028,100 2,842,100 5,150,200 5,205,900 6,127,600  4,043400 6,500,500 
Total 1,921,700 11,314,950 20,407,250 17,692,350 22,178,100 28,509,000 88,485,564 92,099,650 84,687,700  72,296,876 67,860,000

Consumer Education

One of the main functions of the Authority is to promote consumer education with regard to good health, safety and security of consumers. Consumer Affairs Authority has identified several strategies in order to disseminate information to the consumers. In this context the Consumer Affairs and Information Division conducts workshops for different target groups such as government officials, school children and teachers, university students, community based organizations, consumer activists, housewives etc.

The Division encourages the establishment of Consumer Organizations at regional level which is one of the core functions of the Authority. The objective of the establishment of these Consumer Organizations is that consumers living in a particular area could voice their grievances on consumer issues through these organizations and also they could make their own consumer community aware of the consumer rights and responsibilities. Further, they can take initiative corrective action against to promote lawful business in their village/town through these Organizations. The main challenge faced currently is to design a strategy for the sustainability of these Organizations.

Currently CAA is working closely with the district administrative setup in order to identify strategies to establish to network of active consumer societies at grass root level.

Theme Article

Importance of consumer awareness

AN ALERT CONSUMER IS A SAFE CONSUMER!

“Consumers by definition include all citizens who are by and large the biggest group who are affected by almost all government, public or privet decisions.”

John F Kennedy
Former President of United States

In the market economy manufactures always try to maximize profits. There are lots of goods available in the market such as milk products, meat or fish products, genetically modified food products, fruits, soft drinks, edible oil etc. But unfortunately consumers do not know the ingredients of these products. Sometimes manufactures are not following safety regulations in the products like electrical equipment’s, cement, LPG cylinders, switches, sockets, batteries. This leads to many fatal accidents. Adulteration of food, artificially colored vegetables and fruits are very harmful to our health. Manufactures do not concern the quality of the goods and services. It is not important for them the impact on health of people and the environment. In a market economy producer who decides what the consumer should want. In other side consumers are misled by the advertising techniques. Consumption patterns are changing fast today. When we buy goods and services it is very important to check details before buying products. When we consider all above problems there must be an organized and systematic movement for safeguarding the interests of the consumers.

It is very important that the consumers are aware of their rights. In there the government has to play an important role, by enacting suitable laws and enforcing them effectively. In this point consumers have a major role. They must be aware of all rules and regulations regarding consumer protection. Because education is a lifelong process, consumer education is an important part of this process.

The most important step in consumer education is awareness of consumer rights, responsibilities and duties of consumers. Consumers must learn to obtain information about goods and services, understand the psychology of selling and adverting, learn to shop wisely and distinguish between wants and needs.

History of Consumer Law

BADULU TABLET INSCRIPTION BRINGS HISTORICAL TRUTH ON CONSUMER PROTECTION

While series of internationally accepted consumer rights were originated from America and though that primary truth was contained in Sri Lankan stone inscription written in 10th century, we might think that the said fact is not true. However, these facts were included in Badulu Dem inscription written in 10th century.

Once 4th King Udaya went to Mahiyangana Chaitiya pilgrimage and residents of Hopithigamuwa who came there held an agitation saying ‘trustees of kings’ shops, penalty leaders and their servants have collected penalty, due tax, bribe in contrary to Kings Law. Because of this agitation statute was brought saying ‘tax should not be collected as per the Decree of pre King Kasyapa era. This statute was inscribed in the Badulu Dem letter. Not only levy of tax, many important issues related to social life were contained here. Consumer Right is a special feature contained here.

Hopitigama commercial village in Sorabora area, closer to Mahiyangana was discovered. Badula Dem letter is more famous than the Sorabora Dem letter which is identified as Hopitigama Dem letter. John Baily, Assistant Agent, Badulla District in 1851 brought this Dem letter which was unprotected and subjected for rain and sun, is kept in a decorated pavilion near the Kachcheri, Badulla (present Peoples’ Bank premises), for public viewing. This is the largest Dem letter with small letters among those discovered in Sri Lanka. The special feature here is that the said Dem contains series of statute which brings much satisfaction to the public.

The stone measuring 8 feet and 5 inch with four sides A B C D has 47, 49, 49 and 58 lines on those sides respectively. It is shown in the below mentioned picture.

Dr. Senarath Paranawithana says that the issue stated here could be categorized into 4 main parts.

  • Rules relating to penalty imposition
  • Rules relating to Govt. officers
  • Trading policy
  • Consumer Rights

Letters were inscribed with line and each issue was presented separately while the final scripture is completed with symbols such as sun, moon, crow and dog. These symbols indicate that the said inscription will remain in force till the sun and moon exists and violators will be reincarnated as dogs and crows. Since they feared that they would be reborn as dogs and crows as retribution, they have not violated this statute as they believed that the violators would be punished.

Among issues embodied here, rules and regulations relating to consumer protection are as follows:

  • Other measuring system than Govt. tax measuring system should not be used
  • Injustice through unauthorized balance and weight (while stamping)
  • Not to sell goods at unsuitable place
  • Selling goods at places where business is not done
  • Goods not to be sold should not be sold
  • Keep betel and nut at pavilion for sale
  • When found things are sold at unsuitable place, remove them by Govt. servants
  • Take two fold tax to undeclared goods without any problem

these kinds of many issues were contained.

The above issues were taken into consideration when formulating accepted consumer rights at international level. The above issues were contained in the provision of Consumer Authority Act No. 9 of 2003. It is to say that enactment is made saying that betel and areca nut which have to be focused on consumers health concern, has to be marketed at pavilion. Betel and areca nut are popular among the public. Since they are instantly consumed it should be kept clean.

Similarly, the King’s era Decree says that usage of weight and measure which do not comply with required standard should be avoided. This rule is more modified in the present context through ‘Weight and Measure Ordinance’. The rule that says that ‘goods should not be kept at ‘unsuitable place and market them’ was further amended as per Public Nuisance Ordinance No.15 of 1862 which say ‘selling or prompting to sell food and drink which are unsuitable for consumption and become poisonous through consumption is a punishable offence.

The above statute which was inscribed on stone with Brahmiya letters at a primitive level in 10th century is now used to keep public life at a better level. While we have passed hundreds of years and come to the present era, various common issues existed in the King era are still prevalent. The Statute enacted in that era is still useful to the present time.

Reference Books:

  1. Ven. Amarawansa Thero, Kotmale -1969 - Lakdiva Sel Letter - Gunasena and Co - Colombo
  2. Ven. Wimalakeerthi Thero, Medauyangoda - 2004 - Sheela Record Journal - S Godage Brothers - Colombo
Consumer Rights & Responsibilities
  • The right to satisfaction of basic needs
    To have access to basic essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
  • The right to safety
    To be protected, production against products, processes and services which are hazardous to health or life
  • The right to be informed
    To get information to make informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest of mislead advertising and labeling
  • The right to choose
    To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
  • The right to be heard
    To have consumer interests represented in formulating and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services
  • The right to redress
    To receive a fair settlement of just claims including compensation for misrepresentation, substandard goods or unsatisfactory services
  • The right to consumer education
    To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them
  • The right to a healthy environment
    To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations

Competition Promotion Division

CONSUMER AFFAIRS AUTHORITY
ACT, NO.9 OF 2003
PART 111
PROMOTION OF COMPETITION AND CONSUMER INTEREST

  • Clause 34.
    1. The authority may either of its own motion or on a complaint or request made to it by any person, any organization of consumers or an association of traders. Carry out an investigation with respect to the prevalence of any anti-competitive practices.
    2. It shall be the duty of the Authority to complete an investigation under subsection (1) within one hundred days of its initiation.
  • Clause 35.
    For the purpose of section 34, an anti-competitive practice shall be deemed to prevail, where a person in the course of business, pursues a course of conduct which of itself or when taken together with a course of conduct pursued by person associated with him, has or is intended to have or is likely to have the effect of restricting, distorting or preventing competition in connection with the production, supply or acquisition of goods in Sri Lanka or the supply or securing of services in Sri Lanka.
  • Consumer Affairs Authority is empowered by Section 34 of the Act No. 09 of 2003 to carry out investigation with respect to the prevalence of anti- competitive practice.
    The CAA invites representations where a person in the course of business, pursues a course of conduct which of itself or when taken together with a course of conduct pursued by persons associated with him, has or is intended to have or is likely to have the effect of restricting, distorting or preventing competition in connection with the production, supply or acquisition of goods in Sri Lanka or the supply or securing of services in Sri Lanka .Where the anti competition situation in question may operate against the public interest, any association, business concern or person interested may make representations in this connection to the CAA.

Anti-Competitive Practices

Procedure adopted by the Authority in handling a Complaint on Anti-Competitive Practices

Where the application is made to the Council as the case may be, it shall be the duty of the Council to make its order in respect of anti-competitive practices on the parties concerned for the termination of such anti-competitive practices if it is against the PUBLIC INTEREST on such application after an inquiry. For the purpose of investigations the Authority has the powers of a District Court.

Pricing and Management Division

Any item of goods or services, which is considered as essential to the life of the community, may be “specified” as an essential commodity by the Hon.Minister In charge of the subject of Consumer Affairs Authority, acting under Section 18 of the Act, and an order to that effect would be published in the gazette of the Government of Sri Lanka Prescribing such item as a specified item. Once an item is gazette manufactures or traders shall not increase the price the price of such product without the prior written approval of the Authority. A period of 30 days is provided for the authority to examine the application for any price revision and convey the decision to the applicant company.

The examination of the cost structure pertaining to an application for a price revision of a ”specified” commodity, by making reference to supportive documentary evidence furnished by the applicant, and making recommendations to the Authority is the main function of the pricing & management division. This division is also consulted prior to introducing fiscal measures, like import duty changes, subsidies, rebates, etc. with a view to reducing prices or retain them at current levels, whenever prices are likely to escalate due to supply and demand forces.

The prices approved by the authority for any particular product may vary from brand to brand, which leaves each brand identity undisturbed depending on the special distinguishing features of a brand and the company’s marketing strategies. The objective in examining a price is to ensure that prices are not increased indiscriminately. The final objective of the pricing & management division for fair pricing to prevail by fostering competition is a guiding factor in the price determination of essential commodities.

The division is responsible to study and purpose prices for essential commodities and to make recommendations to the authority on pricing policies. The division is also required to recommend prices when entering in to agreements with manufactures and traders in terms of section 14 of the act after studying the production patterns, price trends, market conditions, International prices etc. undertaking public and private sector efficiency studies is also one of the functions of the division.

A manufacture or trader who seeks to obtain the approval of the authority shall make an application in that behalf to the authority.

Pricing Mechanism

Powers vested to the authority by CAA act no.09 of 2003, for regulating the pricing mechanism

(A) Section 14  Agreement to provide for maximum price of good.

The authority may enter into written agreement with any manufacturer or trader or any association of manufactures or traders

To provide for

  • Maximum price of any goods.
  • The standards and specifications of goods manufactured, sold or offered for sale.
  • Any other conditions as to the manufacture, import, supply, storage, distribution, transportation, marketing, labeling or sale of any goods.
(B) Section 18  prior written approval for price revision of specified goods.

Where the minister is of the opinion that any goods or any service is essential to the life to the community or part thereof, the minister in consultation with the authority may be order published in the gazette prescribe such goods or such service as specified goods or specified service the case may be.

No manufacture or trader shall increase the retail or wholesale price of any good or service specified under section 18(1) of the CAA Act, except with the prior written approval of the authority.

(C) Section 19 & 20 – By order published in the Gazette, fix the maximum price.

Where it appears to the Director General that any goods are being sold or any services are being provided by a manufacture or trader at an excessive price the Director General may in consultation with the Authority, refer such matter to the council for investigation and report.

On the receipt of the recommendation of council under section 20(4), the Authority shall by order publish in the gazette, fix the maximum price.

Manufacturer or Trader shall not increase the price of any specified good or services without the prior approval of the Authority. To obtain the approval of the Authority the applicant must be sent the application to the Authority.

Compliance & Enforcement Division

The Compliance & Enforcement division is the legal arm of the authority & is mainly responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act no.09 of 2003 some of the functions of the division are given below.

  • Conducting of inquiries on consumer complaints in terms of sections 13(3) and 32(4) of the act and the enforcement of orders issued in respect of such inquiries through the judiciary.
  • Institution of action in courts and prosecution of offenders for the contravention of the provisions of provisions of the act and depending the Authority in courts on cases instituted against the Authority.
  • Preparation, Execution, and enforcement of agreements on behalf of the Authority as per the provisions of the Act.
  • Drafting and publishing of directions and orders in the government Gazette in terms of the provisions of the Act.
  • Preparation and issuing of Warnings to Traders in terms of the provisions of the Act in the case of first contravention of the provisions.
  • Monitoring of substandard goods entering the country with the assistance of the SLSI and Sri Lanka Customs.
  • Organize and conduct legal educational programs for the operational staff in order to enhance their knowledge & participation as resource persons on educational/awareness programs for both consumers and traders conducted by the Authority and Other Organizations.

Apart from the day to day activities, the division is responsible for drafting and preparation of proposals to amend the existing provisions in the act in order to enhance powers of the Authority and to minimize the barriers in the implementations of provisions. In achieving this task the division is involved in obtaining proposals, drafting and liaising with the respective Departments [Attorney General’s Department and the legal Draftsman’s Department] in sorting out varies issues.

The consumer complaints unit [CCU] attached to this division is responsible for the following;

  • Handing of consumer complaints including the negotiations for settlements with a view of granting redress to the aggrieved complaints in a manner acceptable to both parties.
  • Coordinate with other Regulatory bodies in obtaining redress for aggrieved consumers, especially in respect of services.

Last Update: 16-06-2017
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