PESHAWAR - The first ever training session for the government officials of the Provincial Consumer Council KPK, District Consumer Protection Council, Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), was organised by The Network for Consumer Protection at Peshawar.  

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the training focused on the Grievance Redress Mechanisms in the Provincial Consumer Protection Council and Energy sector laws and regulations. Thousands of people suffered during the shutdowns and subsequent protests against supply of gas and electricity. Thus the training focused on giving consumers the way to have their grievances redressed. Now after 7 years with the inception of Provincial Consumer Council vide notification of Provincial Industries’ Department dated January 24, 2013, the Consumer Redress Mechanism is going to further strengthen. TheNetwork further promotes and opines that the appointments under the KPK Consumer Protection Act for the Consumer Council should be with exclusive authority for functioning of the Council instead of giving additional charge as is currently the practice in the province of KPK.

“But until there are complaints there won’t be any redress unless these bodies proactively respond to the complaints of the consumers. In case of consumer protection councils both at the provincial and district level, civil society must play its role to bring the trust of consumers on these bodies,” says Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Coordinator, The Network for Consumer Protection.

During her presentation, Ms Amna Bano (Project Co-ordinator) said that KPK Consumer Protection Law needs to be seen as a whole. It also requires an effective consumer protection council mainly consisting of bureaucrats, civil society organisations and eminent people as enshrined in the law. She further added that litigation in the consumer court is only done after exhausting all these forums.  Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Coordinator of The Network, briefed the participants about the nature of three types of regulations - self, co and third party - to make the consumer redress framework more effective in the consumer sector.

He said that NEPRA and OGRA laws provide for the effective contribution of consumers in the open hearings for price determination of the tariff, but the consumer representation is negligible. The government officials from the Provincial Consumer Council KPK, District Consumer Protection Council, Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), District Peshawar participated in the daylong training workshop, which familiarised them with the KPK Consumer Protection Act 1997 and the KPK Consumer Protection Council Rules 2007 along with the relevant energy sector regulations.

The Information Education Communication (IEC) material in the form of poster and brochure as prepared by The Network was explained, discussed and disseminated among all participants in detail.

Participants of the workshop committed that “they would be the torch bearers to spread the awareness and understanding of the consumer protection legislation among their consumers and the society in general.” The Network works for creating awareness of the consumer protection rights and the implementation of the laws.