PM urged to revive consumer rights bill

A consumer protection network is calling on Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to create an autonomous consumer protection body, something it has been trying to push through for 17 years.

The Foundation for Consumers and its allies on Thursday announced efforts to revive the Consumer Protection Non-Government Organisation Bill.

The bill was last passed by the House of Representatives during the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and sent to a joint vetting committee chaired by Worawat Ua-apinyakul. However, parliament was dissolved and the bill was dropped.

Saree Ongsomwang, secretary-general of the Foundation for Consumers, said every consumer in Thailand has had his or her rights violated.

The proposed organisation would protect consumers from unfair practices and misleading advertising, and would serve as the one-stop-service centre to handle consumer needs.

"We plan to send a letter to Gen Prayuth and related ministers to support the bill as soon as the cabinet takes office," Ms Saree said.

Boonyuen Siritham, ex-senator for Samut Prakan, said the main objection to the formation of the autonomous consumer protection organisation was the supposed overlapping of its responsibilities with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB)."Opponents fail to explain that the OCPB itself fails to perform the 80% of work that they believe overlaps with the autonomous organisation," Ms Boonyuen said.

"Indeed, the autonomous body would push the state sector to take the problem seriously."

"We will push for the bill, citing the need to reduce future conflicts between consumers and the business sector and bring about fairness to consumers. Consumers need the National Council for Peace and Order to help us return to a happiness that is sustainable," she said.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), said the bill could still be revived even though it was dropped from parliament.

"The public sector must encourage the PM, deputies and other ministers, especially deputy prime minister in charge of legal affairs Vishana Krua-ngam, to see the importance of the bill and help push it to the NLA. There is still hope as up to 43 bills concerning people's welfare, such as fair debt collection, have been brought back for consideration," he said.

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