The Directorate-General of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) has planned seven programmes to be implemented in 2022 to increase food safety and ensure fair business practices.
CCF director-general Phan Oun said on December 29 that the programmes deal with food safety, consumer protection, market competition, halal dietary standards, third party monitoring, law enforcement cooperation and human resources development.
Oun said the programmes would strengthen the CCF’s ability to monitor and respond to food safety incidents, promote cooperation with other relevant national agencies, industry associations, educational institutions, researchers, private sector businesses and international organisations.
He said the programmes would promote transparency and environmental standards, raise awareness of laws and regulations, raise awareness of dangerous products and increase the participation of the private sector in efforts to fight fraud and anti-consumer behaviour.
He added that these programmes would also improve the structure and technical capacity of law enforcement to protect consumer interests and promote the establishment of industry associations and raise awareness of businesses’ responsibilities and consumer rights.
“We classify this as a programme to facilitate what we’re already doing and make it easier to carry out our mission in 2022,” he said.
According to the CCF reports, in 2021 it completed the drafting of a law on market competition as well as sub-decrees under that law and a joint proclamation under the consumer protection law on referral of criminal activity to investigators who hold the rank of judicial police and can enforce the law.
He said that over the years, CCF officials have also been actively cracking down on dishonest businesses such as fuel station owners or other bad actors in the sector.
They have also been going after those involved in trade in methanol, which is sold as regular ethyl alcohol fraudulently that can lead to poisonings. In 2021 alone, the CCF confiscated about 200 tonnes of methanol.
He said the CCF has made good progress in the fight against counterfeit goods, especially those violating intellectual property rights or related to food safety, confiscating about 40 tonnes of these products this year.
“We’ve been training CCF officials who are qualified as judicial police on all aspects of the consumer protection and market competition law. We also have a national outreach programme and we meet with other stakeholders such as the private sector, relevant ministries and institutions and other authorities,” he said.
Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said on December 29 that he did not have a specific assessment of how effective the CCF has been overall, but problems related to fraudulent products were still widespread so the work of the institution probably needed to be improved.
“We see a lot of inspection campaigns, but the problem with petrol fraud in terms of the measurement of litres and the octane quality hasn’t been reduced much. It’s still occurring at some gas stations and affecting the public,” he said.
Pisey said consumers should spend more time changing their own habits rather than blaming others because the authorities cannot succeed if they are working on their own without public participation in the form of tips to CCF or other law enforcement officers.
“If citizens realise that they have bought an item that is not the size or the amount they paid for or the quality is bad or they are cheated in any way, they should help by complaining to the authorities so that we all we can increase the efficiency of the market and reward the clean businesses,” he said.