The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 that seeks to amend the archaic Consumer Protection Act, is expected to be passed in the next session of Parliament. This was indicated in New Delhi today by Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution while inaugurating the sixth edition Massmerize 2016, FICCI’s annual flagship Retail, FMCG & E-Commerce Convention.
The three decades old Consumer Protection Act is seen as an inefficient piece of legislation, out of step with the new market dynamics, multi-layered delivery chains, innovative and often misleading advertising and marketing machinery. The new Bill that awaits Parliament’s assent seeks to empower the consumers to protect their rights against unfair trade practices. It intends to close the gaps with regard to protection of consumer rights including the time taken in settling disputes, an ability to reach to the manufactures for product liability and curb misleading advertisements.
Paswan said that it was important for industry to win the consumers’ trust and weed out companies indulging in misleading advertisements which often played with the health of the consumers. The onus, he said, was on industry to deliberate on this issue with seriousness and identify factors that are inimical to industry’s growth.
The Minister emphasized that the protection of consumer interest and consumer satisfaction was critical for the success of any marketing strategy. In this context, he urged FICCI to institute consumer-friendly awards to recognize companies that placed consumers’ first.
Krish Iyer, Chairman, FICCI Retail and Internal Trade Committee and President and CEO, Walmart India, pointed out that reforms in the FMCG, retail and e-commerce industry were important for driving consumption and growth and in making ‘Make in India’ programme a success. The passage of GST Bill in Parliament and its expected roll out in April 2017 will change the way business is done in India and ultimately result in higher GDP growth.
Sanjiv Puri, Chairman, FICCI FMCG Committee and COO, ITC, gave the FMCG industry perspective, indicating that the FMCG sector which today stands at close to Rs. 230,000 crore is expected to climb to Rs. 600,000 crore by the end of the decade. He said that the food processing sector was today taxed at over 25 percent across the whole value chain and called for a much more moderate rate of tax in the GST regime. The losses in terms of revenue to the government will be compensated for by a widened tax base, he said.
D Shivakumar, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo India, said that GST will bring about a dramatic change in the way the FMCG companies will function in future. It will enable companies to cut inventory holding cost and lead to scaled markets and distribution networks. He stressed the need to innovate and deliver products to time-starved consumers and added that for the modern day consumer price was not the only element dictating purchase.
Harish Bhat, Member GEC, Tata Sons, said that the march of digitalization was changing the consumer profile in the country as by 2020, close to 220 million consumers will be online shoppers, a six-fold increase from now. He added that the key consumer trends indicated that health and wellness were a major requirement of the consumers and digital connectivity was driving this demand. He suggested that industry and government come together to find innovative solutions to satisfy consumer demand.
A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that India has emerged as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world with increasing disposable incomes, rapid industrialisation and a significant shift in the demographic pattern. Among the key contributors to India’s growth story have been consumer-centric sectors such as Retail, FMCG and e-Commerce.