NEW DELHI: The government has forbidden companies from selling the same product at different ‘maximum retail prices’, bringing relief to customers who have complained against a higher MRP being charged at airports, malls and cinemas.
The directive is part of the changes in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which will come into effect from January 1, 2018. “We are giving a breathing period to the manufacturers, so they have enough time for compliance,” an official dealing with legal metrology added.
The department of consumer affairs said it adopted a balanced approach after wide consultations.
“Based on the experience of implementation of the rules and after a detailed stakeholder consultation, the department has amended the rules, aimed at enhanced consumer protection, but at the same time balancing with the requirement of ease of doing business,” the consumer affairs department said.
“Specific mention is made in the rules that no person shall declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity, unless allowed under any law. This will benefit consumers at large as they are having complaint regarding dual MRP for item depending upon different type of public places like cinema hall, airport, malls etc.,” the statement said.
Restaurant owners said the rules won’t apply to them. “This won’t be applicable to restaurants as under GST they come under the category of supplier services. And the latest notification is applicable for retail services where customer buy off the counter,” said Rahul Singh, secretary, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).
The government has also ordered that the size of letters and numerals in the declaration should be increased to make it easier for consumers to read.
The consumer affairs department has also ordered that medical devices such as stents, valves, orthopaedic implants, syringes and tools for operations will have to display MRP.
“This is to raise awareness, because the customer has a right to know what the prices (of these medical devices are),” Jai Priye Prakash, secretary, department of pharmaceuticals (DoP), told ET.
The move follows a request from department of pharmaceuticals, senior officials from both departments confirmed.
“Consumers had no way to reach the manufacturer in case a complaint came up with these medical devices. Now it will be much easier for the consumer to do so,” a legal metrology officer said.
So far, it was not mandatory for all medical devices declared as drugs to make mandatory declarations under the legal metrology rules. Some medical device manufacturers have welcomed the move.
“This will ensure that hospitals and chemists do not have a blank cheque to charge patients indiscriminately because the products did not carry an MRP on their label earlier,” said Rajiv Nath of the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry. Some essential devices like artificial heart valves and catheters did not display MRPs earlier and patients were overcharged for them, added Nath.
“Many imported medical devices did not display MRPs because foreign companies argued they were not being sold directly to the patients over the counter,” he said.
A senior government official also said medical devices may have been exempt from displaying their MRPs because they were not sold directly to patients by manufacturers. For instance, patients are billed for stents by hospitals instead of the companies that make them.
“Consumers were facing difficulty as devices were sold according to the paying capacity of the consumer. Even after capping of MRPs, many companies were not displaying (the MRP),” the department of consumer affairs said.
The legal metrology rules were framed to regulate pre-packaged commodities. Under these rules, manufacturers are required to comply with certain labelling requirements.
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Via:: Economic times – Wealth