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Seminar concludes consumer rights lack protection

Update: March, 16/2012 - 10:21

HCM CITY — The Government needs to get its act right to better protect consumers, a seminar heard in HCM City on Wednesday.

Participants, who said consumer rights have not been protected, also urged civil society groups to help.

The seminar was held to mark World Consumer Rights Day, March 15.

In Viet Nam, the Law on Consumer Rights Protection, which took effect last July, was a big step in making producers more accountable to consumers. But with fake products being rampant and the Government seemingly unable to prevent it, food security, people's health, and the environment were all affected, the seminar heard.

To make enforcement of the law easier, deputy chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, Le Manh Ha, said it is necessary to further propagate its provisions.

He also called for severe punishment for violation of the law.

The Market Management Department has so far this year found 11,400 cases of violations and levied fines of VND23 billion (US$1.1 million) and seized goods worth billions of dong.

But it is not easy to identify fakes since they have become more sophisticated and require expertise and equipment to do so, vice president of the Viet Nam Standards and Consumer Rights Protection Association, Nguyen Manh Hung, said.

"While the Government plays an important role in protecting consumer rights, the role of civil society groups is also vital," delegates said.

The HCM City Consumer Rights Protection Organisation, which was set up in 1999 to help raise awareness of consumer rights and their protection, has helped thousands of consumers.

But its functioning has been hampered by lack of financial support.

Sai Gon Giai Phong has quoted its president Nguyen Mong Hung as saying that it has been depending on financial assistance from enterprises, banks, and other sources.

His organisation has asked the city for financial support but has yet to hear from the People's Committee, he said, warning that it faced closure without funding.

Many other civil society groups involved in consumer rights protection too have been hobbled by lack of finances.

The HCM City Consumer Rights Protection Organisation on Wednesday signed agreements with four city-based companies in which they committed to protect consumer rights.

Raising community awareness on consumer rights protection is the goal of a month-long programme of activities being held in HCM City.

The HCM City Department of Industry and Trade (DoIT) was organising the activities throughout the city with the theme "Our Money, Our Rights" yesterday, the official World Consumer Rights Day. — VNS

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