Criticizing the Government’s political interference into the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), consumer rights groups called for the CAA to be made an independent commission.

The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection (NMCRP) alleged that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had ordered the Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) to not be concerned with price controls.

The NMCRP, the All Island Canteen Owners’ Association and other civil society organizations handed over a petition to the United Nations (UN), addressed to the Secretary General of the UN, concerning consumer rights violations in the country, and urged the UN to advice and pressure the Government of Sri Lanka to take action in this regard.

Chairman, NMCRP, Ranjith Withanage called for the CAA to be made an independent commission like the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission and the Election Commission.

“The People’s Park shopping complex in Pettah sells unhealthy food stuffs like snack foods and jellies without labels and sans information about the production, manufacturing and distribution, wholesale, yet the CAA does not conduct raids,” he alleged.

He adding that even though there were price controls placed on items like flour, sugar and dhal, the CAA did not raid errant traders, traders who sold goods above the authorized rate and controlled price.

As per the provisions of the Act, anyone can make a complaint with the CAA regarding a violation of consumer rights by anyone including a company, yet the CAA takes approximately 10 months to a year to examine and investigate the matter, he alleged.

“It has been over 13 years now since the CAA Act, No. 9 of 2003, was put in place following the removal of other laws in place to protect and foster consumer rights. Even during the age of kings and the British, there have been ordinances for the protection of such,” he added.

“At present the Authority is highly politicized. We have informed of this to all the relevant and competent State and Government authorities and local mechanisms. Although price control laws are in place, there is no effective enforcement mechanism,” he mentioned.