Mohamed Shoukry, vice chairperson of the Chamber of Food Industries (CFI) at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), has demanded separating the roles of supervisory agencies in order to prevent an overlap of competencies.
FEI representative said that the federation will offer its suggestions to the economic committee at the parliament after reviewing the latest draft law over the coming days.
He explained that the federation aims to avoid any overlap between the specialties of the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) and the Food Safety Authority (FSA), as the role of the CPA is to defend the interests of consumers, and the role of the FSA is to ensure the quality of food products.
Shoukry stressed the importance of not including articles of new penalties in the consumer protection law, while using the penal code to include the necessary punishment for violators.
“The penalties must be in accordance with the law and should be material, not criminal, unless the case requires otherwise. The penal code has also specified a penalty for each violation; hence, it is not necessary to include new penalties in the consumer protection law,” he explained.
Shoukry denounced the inclusion of several articles in the laws given that they may overlap with the articles of other laws, leading to a late discovery of this conflict between all these laws.
“Over the past years, the food industries sector was monitored by specific ministries and parties concerned with the sector; however, the monitoring was weak, so each agency must play its role while coordinating with several other bodies,” Shoukry went on to explain.
He pointed out the importance of determining the period required to retrieve goods based on the type and size of the commodity, as the food industry is different from the car industry and the industry of electrical appliances.
Ashraf El-Gazayerli, the chairperson of CFI, said that the Consumer Protection Law should not be evaluated before the approval of the draft law of the parliament.
Moustafa El-Ashry, member of the electrical appliances division at the Chamber of Engineering Industries (CEI) at the FEI, said that the most prominent obstacle for factories within the consumer protection law is the right to retrieve commodities during the 14-day period, in the absence of any defect in manufacturing.
He added that this item represents a major burden on factories because it does not preserve their rights, as some consumers take advantage of this item and try to return commodities without a defect in manufacturing.
He called on the parties concerned with preparing the consumer protection law to specify an intermediary between consumers and sellers during that period in order to be a fair judge if consumers wanted to return a commodity.
Article 17 of the consumer protection law stipulates that consumers can return any commodity or product and get a refund within 14 days from the purchase date, without giving any reasons, unless the condition of the commodity prevented its return to the seller. Consumer goods are perishable, and if they are not in a good condition on their return, they are given back to consumers.
Rafat Rozeika, chairperson of Golden Foods, said that the new law must include providing the necessary manpower to monitor markets and not wait until consumers complain.
He pointed out that the majority of consumers who are exposed to commercial fraud do not resort to CPA, so the CPA’s role must be more active in reality.
“If consumers see the active role of supervisory authorities in shops and trade fairs, they will have more confidence to file complaints because they would trust their rights will be preserved,” he added.
Rozeika stressed the importance of tightening control on unlicensed factories, especially in the food sector, in order to ensure that the health of citizens is not affected.