The Consumer Affairs Authority Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament today without amendments.
The second reading of the bill took place during today’s Parliamentary sittings.
The bill after ratification by the Speaker of House will enable the Consumer Affairs Authority to increase the fines imposed on traders and companies found to be in violation of selling goods above the standard prices announced by the government.
State Minister of Co-operative Services and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said following the approval of the bill, strict legal action will be taken against persons who sell goods above the Maximum Retail Prices announced by the government.
Speaking during the debate in Parliament, State Minister Alagiyawanna said fines imposed on first and second-time offenders will be increased after the ratification of the bill.
The State Minister said persons who sell goods above government-stipulated rates are being fined between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 10,000 at present and in future first-time offenders will be charged between Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 1 million.
He added in future if an individual commits the offence for the second time, a fine of between Rs. 200,000 to Rs. 2 million will be levied.
Furthermore, fines on company operators or establishments will be increased from between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 1 million to Rs. 10 million for a first offence while second-time offenders will be fined between Rs. 2 million to Rs. 20 million.
The State Minister said according to amended regulations, a magistrate can impose a fine and a six-month prison sentence for first and second-time offenders.
He also noted that 90 percent of the importers and traders comply with the regulations but the new Bill was presented with the aim of regulating the remaining 10 percent who have created unnecessary issues in the country.
Meanwhile, State Minister of Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna has assured that necessary steps will be taken to address the current food shortage in the market by Friday.
State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna said they are hoping to take necessary decisions to provide a permanent solution to the shortage during Friday’s Cost of Living Committee.
Speaking in Parliament, State Minister Alagiyawanna acknowledged that there is a shortage of essential food items including powdered milk in the market.
The State Minister said they believe consumers’ interests can be protected by permitting prices of goods to fluctuate based on supply and demand of specific goods.
State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna said if price controls are imposed, it is likely that there will be shortages. He said therefore they are hoping to take appropriate decisions pertaining to the shortage of flour, powdered milk and cement on Friday.