Wed, 05 Mar 2003

Government to set up consumer protection agency

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government was planning to set up the National Consumer Protection Agency (BPKN) to help protect consumers against irresponsible producers or traders, a top official at the ministry of industry and trade said.

The move is part of an effort to ensure that products sold at local markets meet the standards set by the government.

"The role of the agency is very important to empower consumers as many of them (consumers) remain ignorant about their rights on the quality of goods," Rifana Erni, director general of domestic trade affairs told the Jakarta Post last week.

She said that many consumers remained silent or did not know where to report when they purchased defective products.

She added that consumers could file their complaints with the agency after establishment.

She claimed that President Megawati Soekarnoputri had agreed to the establishment of the planned agency.

The ministry has submitted the proposal to the House of Representatives Commission V on trade affairs for approval.

"We have submitted the proposal, including the names of experts on consumer protection to the House. We are now waiting for the House's approval," Erni said.

The proposed experts who will run the agency include Sampoerno, current chief of the Food and Drug Agency (POM), and Tini Hadad, former chief of the Indonesian Consumer's Foundation (YLKI).

The establishment of the agency is also part of the implementation of Consumer Protection Law No. 8/1999.

Under Article 8 of the law, all producers and traders are banned from producing and marketing products and services that do not meet standards set by the government.

Producers and traders are also forbidden from deceiving consumers by falsifying the quality of their products.

Violators would face five years in jail or a maximum fine of Rp 2 billion (US$224,719) in addition to the revocation of their business permit.

Erni said that both producers and importers who sold their products in the country must meet the government's rulings with regard to labeling, marketing, advertising and after-sales service.

She said that the company must print the name of the product, its specification, volume and even the identity of producers and importers.

"The products must also carry labels issued by the National Standardization Agency of Indonesia (SNI)," she said.

For eyebox

Govt investigates illegal electronics

Some 196 brands of electronic products sold in Jakarta were allegedly illegal products as they had not been listed with the ministry of industry and trade, a senior official said.

"The 196 brands have not been registered with us yet. The producers (or dealers) also did not issue owner's manuals or guarantee cards when selling the products here," Budi Darmadi, director of the inspection of goods and services at the ministry said.

The products in question consist of 57 brands of video compact disks (VCD) and digital video disks (DVD), 31 brands of radios, 29 television brands, 23 air conditioner brands, 11 refrigerators, 6 brands of washing machines, 3 makes of cellular phones and 15 computer printers.

The ministry was now conducting an intensive investigation into the case.

"We purchased both imported and locally made products secretly to inspect the quality," Budi said.

"We want to ensure consumers that the quality of products sold at the local markets is in line with the quality promised by producers," he said.

Many electronic products are now being sold on the local market without guarantees. These are suspected to be smuggled products.

The producers and traders have to provide a guarantee of at least one year. They also have to issue manuals in Bahasa Indonesia, according to existing regulations.