Competition Promotion and Consumer Protection Directorate(CPCPD)
Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Afghanistan
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Frequently Asked Questions-Consumer

Q. Who is a consumer?
A. Any legal or natural person who purchases goods or services for their personal use not for re-supply or using them in manufacturing any other goods is a consumer. In other words, everyone is a consumer except those who buy goods or services for business purposes. For example, if a company purchases a TV for the use of the director at his office, the company itself or the director of the company is a consumer.

Q. How can we get quality products and services?
A. You can ensure quality products and services by enforcing the consumer protection law. If all the traders comply with the law, the quality of goods and services shall get to the satisfactory level.

Q. How can we know we are buying products that have not expired?
A. You simply have to check the manufacturing and expiry dates of the product. Dates are usually clearly written on the covers of the products. Any goods that do not have such dates or are blank or have been tampered with should not be purchased and should be classified as expired and unsafe for human consumption.

Q. What are the measures that the government will take to ensure that the traders are not selling sub-standard goods?
A. The government will make sure that all the traders are aware of their responsibilities towards the consumers who are the most important members of their business. The government will also take the appropriate measures to prevent entry of such goods into the country by having a tight control on the borders with neighbouring countries. Lastly, the government, by detecting the existence of such goods shall take strict measures by seizing all such goods to deter others from doing the same. It is also the responsibility of the government to make consumers aware not to buy sub-standard goods.

Q. What can I do when after reaching home I discover that I have bought expired goods?
A. You can simply take the goods back to the trader and ask for one of the three remedies known as three “R” remedies. You can ask for refund, replacement or if appropriate repair. Obviously, the latter is not an appropriate option, but the first two options shall be available to the consumers.

Q. What shall I do if after returning the expired goods the trader refuses to take them back?
A. It is always advisable that in any arisen dispute between the consumer and the trader, the first course of action by the consumer shall be to resolve the issue with the trader directly by discussing with him. Should the trader refuse to cooperate with this option, there are several other ways that consumers can take. They can seek assistance from an accredited consumer association or they can lodge a complaint with Competition Promotion and Consumer Protection Directorate (CPCPD) at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. CPCPD on their behalf will begin the dialogue with the trader and if required, they can be fined up to 10% of the fine determined in the regulations before referring them to the Consumer Board.

Q. What kind of penalty is given to traders who persistently sell expired goods?
A. Under the proposed consumer protection law yet to be enacted, selling of expired goods is one of the criminal offences. Even if the goods are sold for the first time, the traders can be prosecuted. Of course, there will be discretion of the relevant court to determine on the severity of the punishment. However, it is obvious that the more persistent the infringer may be the more severe the punishment will be too.

Q. How can we be sure of our safety on all edible products on the market?
A. As an enforcement agency, the responsibility lies with the CPCPD along with other stakeholders to regulate the market and prevent, detect and seize unsafe goods in the market. Note that this is easier said than done. All consumers shall also have to check the expiry dates of the goods and check the appearance of the goods that may, to some extent, determine the safety of the edible products.

Q. Some traders restrict the return of goods by putting a notice that: “Once goods are bought, they are not returnable”. How are we protected from this malpractice?
A. This notice itself is an illegal statement. As part of the awareness campaign by our government, all traders will be advised to refrain from using such notices. The traders cannot use such notices to put off the consumers from exercising their basic consumer right of redress.

Q. What are our responsibilities as consumers?
A. Your responsibilities as a consumer are one of cooperation and vigilance. You shall have an inquisitive approach to every product that we purchase. You should satisfy yourselves by the quality, quantity, colour, size, whether or not you need the product and all other details before making your final purchase. The authorities shall carry out a pre-shopping research through checking on the durability of the product or services either online something that will be prevalent in the future or through asking family members and friends who have used them before. They shall also check the products to match the claimed weight, make, the manufacturing country and company. Without being disrespectful to the seller, we shall always weigh all the goods sold by weight without blindly accepting the trader’s claim, particularly those products, which have been packaged in bags of different sizes. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 Frequently Asked Questions-Competition

Q. What is competition?

A.  The Afghanistan Competition Law enacted in 2010 defines the word Competition as below:

“Means a situation where in a number of independent producers, buyers and sellers for producing, buying or selling of similar commodities or services operate in such a manner that none of them has the power of determining quantity and price in the market independently. Competition amongst entrepreneurs in markets of goods and services enables them to take economic decisions independently”.

In general, Competition is rivalry amongst businesses to win consumers’ patronage. This rivalry can be in a form such as lowering prices, increasing product quality or choice. Sellers may also compete by innovating to produce new and better products in order to attract buyers, thus bringing about higher quality and greater choice for the consumer.

Q. How good is competition for a society?

A. Competition drives firms to become more efficient and offer a greater choice of products at lower prices because of the fear that only the fittest will survive in the market. Since consumers’ purchasing power increases as a result of lower prices, consumers are better off. For example, a poor person used to buy battery cells for 5 Afghanis each. Due to competition the prices have come down to 2 Afghanis. The poor fellow saves 3 Afghanis which can now be used to buy something else. This is how economy grows in most simple terms.

Competition in particular

  • Encourages sellers to become more efficient
  • Encourages innovation
  • Ensures availability of goods and services of acceptable quality at affordable/lower prices
  • Offers wider choices to consumers

In the process it ensures consumer welfare and induces economic growth. 

Q. What is unfair competition?

A. Competition can be Fair as well as Unfair.

Fair competition relates to the adoption of fair means by firms such as producing quality goods, becoming cost-efficient, optimising the use of resources, adopting the best available technology, investing in research and development, etc.

Unfair Competition relates to the adoption of unfair means such as fixing prices with the rivals, setting a price which is lower than cost in order to throw out competitors from the market, advertising that belittles others’ product, restricting use of resources needed for production etc.

Q. What is Competition Law?

A. It is an instrument designed to prevent those in business from trading unfairly.

Q. What are the objectives of the Competition Law?

A. The objective of the Competition Law is to protect and promote fair and efficient markets.

Q. What is dominance?

A. To be in a position of dominance, a business must have the ability to act independently of its customers, competitors and consumers. However, dominance per se is not considered bad. It’s the abuse of this position of dominance that is prohibited.

Q. Who regulates competition in business in Afghanistan?

A.  The National Competition Board once is in place, will have the responsibility of regulating and promoting competition in the marketplace. 

Q. What is prohibited under the competition Law?

A. Some examples of the prohibited activities are as below. Complete list can be seen in the Competition Law.

  • Collectively refraining from a transaction or limiting quantity of goods or services, which are subject of transaction.

  • Forcing other persons to refrain from transaction and limiting their dealings with their competitors.

  • Supplying or demanding similar goods or services, with prices charged discriminately between two or more parties or difference of price between different areas, in spite of equal conditions of the transaction and its costs.

  • Discrimination in terms of the transactions which includes imposing discriminatory conditions in transactions for different persons under the same circumstances.

  • Forcing the other party to a deal with a third party, in case it is related to supply and demand of other goods or services.

  • Creating obstacles to prevent entry of new competitors or expel entrepreneurs, traders, organizations or competitor companies in a particular activity.

  • Abuse of dominant position of collective act of entrepreneurs, traders, organisations and companies who are dominant in the goods and service market.

Q. To whom can I make a complaint about anti-competitive practices?

A. At present the competition law is not enforced. Once enforced, complaints if any can be made in writing to the Secretariat of the National Competition Board, which is “Competition Promotion and Consumer Protection Directorate (CPCPD)”. CPCPD functions as a Directorate under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. 

Q. How long can I wait to hear the outcome of my complaint?

A. As per the Competition Law yet to be enforced, the National Competition Board is mandated to decide if an investigation is warranted within a maximum of 30 working days from the date of receipt of the complaint. The decision taken in this regard will be made known within seven working days to the parties involved.

Q. Is the decision of the National Competition Board final?

A. No. If one of the parties is not satisfied with the decision of the Board, they can appeal within 5 working days to the relevant court.

Q. How many countries around the world have Competition Law in place?

A. More than 110 countries have a competition regime in place. Cananda was the first country to enact a Competition Law in 1889 followed by USA in 1890. Brazil passed its competition law on 1st December 2011. 

Useful Links
Ministry of Commerce and Industries
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
International Competition Network
Consumer International  
News/Up Coming Events
The Consumer protection National policy approved by the cabinet of Islamic republic of Afghanistan on Augest 9/2017
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