Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Added consumer protections

Parliament has approved a new consumer protection law amidst the business community’s fears of added burdens, reports Safeya Mounir

Added consumer protections
Added consumer protections

Parliament ratified Egypt’s new consumer protection law this week after its approval by two-thirds of MPs. The new law contains provisions that oblige producers and importers to provide consumers with details of products, including the recommended price, the country of origin, and any other data stipulated by the law in specific cases. Advertisements for products should also be clearly written in Arabic.

The new law obliges businesses to provide proof of purchase in the form of receipts to consumers. It prohibits the importing, production, distribution or advertisement of any item that could be seen as discriminatory. Prices should be clearly written on products themselves, including any relevant taxes.

Ali Moselhi, the minister of supply and internal trade, said in parliament that the new law would help protect the rights of consumers and shield them against fraud. 

However, Ahmed Sakr, head of the Food Products Division at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said the law violated free-market principles which set prices according to supply and demand. He said that some hypermarkets would still promote products for less than the started prices. 

He added that the new regulations would not be imposed on imported products and would therefore increase the burdens on local producers. These would eventually be passed onto consumers, he said.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade Mohamed Sweid said the new law protected consumers’ rights and enabled the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) to monitor pricing and the issuing of receipts.

The new law replaces the 2006 consumer protection law. It grants consumers the right to sue producers through quick procedures and to receive fair compensation for any damages caused. It also punishes producers and advertisers should they mislead consumers, including those advertising on satellite TV channels.

CPA head Atef Yacoub stated that the new law prohibited the stockpiling of strategic commodities, adding that such items needed to be declared to the authorities. The law also gives the government powers to determine the price of strategic commodities for certain periods and their conditions of sale, with decisions published in the newspapers.

Yacoub told Al-Ahram Weekly that “the law’s executive regulations should be prepared within the coming three months and be ready for application in the following six months.”

Under the new law, consumers need to be fully informed of product specifications. 

“The law prevents the sale of cars not already in showrooms,” said Khaled Saad, manager of Brilliance Bavarian Autos, a car dealer in Cairo. “But car prices can change overnight. A car vendor may have contracted a shipment and received a down payment from a consumer before the arrival of the car in question. If the price of the car then changes, according to this law the vendor will not be able to raise the retail price. In order not to lose money, I will therefore be obliged only to sell cars already in the showroom,” he said.

Yacoub had earlier said that the new law was intended to end “overpricing”, which has caused problems in the past. He said that reservations for new cars would now have to be done in writing, with documents showing specifications and the retail price. Sellers would need to provide buyers with technical certificates issued by a CPA-approved service centre, he said. These would inform consumers of any needed repairs and obtain necessary approvals.

Under the new law, manufacturers must replace flawed goods within a year of purchase without added charges to the consumer. 

The new law also regulates the real-estate market, prohibiting the advertisement of residential units or land slated for construction until all legal procedures have been completed. Building permits or ministerial approval are required in every case to prevent misleading advertisements.

Unlike the 2006 law, the new law also contains regulations for electronic trading and remote contracts.

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